Letter: He who controls the past...

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The Independent Online
I AM not against the idea of benchmarking history or any other academic subject ("The making of a history graduate", Education, 14 January). In an increasingly uncertain world, it seems reasonable that people should have at least an outline idea of what skills and concepts they should expect to master at degree level in a given subject. The problem with any such exercise is that it can very easily become over-prescriptive and bureaucratic. The warning signs are there in Anthony Fletcher's article on the question.

In reality, of the challenges facing historians as the millennium nears, benchmarking is not the major one. The undermining of the empirical basis of the subject from within by post-modernists, and the down-grading of the subject in schools by a government that looks to the future, while caring not at all about the past, are what historians really need to get agitated about at the moment.


Convener, London Socialist Historians Group