Is Scottish history the only history that matters in the classroom?


A place of beauty…

Home to the good old bagpipes, Irn Bru and Whiskey…

A long spanning history that is truly interesting…


Recently, I started back at University (what a shock to the system – let me tell you) and my elective module is history. This got me thinking about something that was said to me in my first year of training, that I should only teach primary aged children about local and Scottish history and that anything else will not gage their interest and be a waste of time. Now, nothing against Scotland, but come on! Thats got to be a joke… Only teaching 5-11 year old children about Scotland? Everyday we are becoming a far more diverse country, excepting children into our schools from all across the world and integrating them into our society. Surely we want them to feel welcome and not bombarded with this attitude that Scotland is some kind of self absorbed motherland (which we all know it isn’t) who doesn’t care about any other pinnacle points in history?

Like I said and I really truly mean, Scotland has an amazing heritage and should be remembered, celebrated and talked about – but in the same respect there are so many other topics out there that teachers with this opinion are just not focussing on in the way that they could because of how much Scottish history there is. It means things like the Egyptians, The Great War, Rosa Parks and Cavemen are only being taught outside of schools through conversations with parents/family members, trips to a museum and books like Horrible Histories. I lost count in school of the amount of times I went on school trips to visit Culloden just because it was easy to teach and it was basically the closest thing to the school with some historical significance or we did William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. Other than that it was a whirlwind through the Egyptians and a whistle stop tour through the vikings.

Me with the Eiffel Tower. Just something with a lot of history that isn't in Scotland...

Me with the Eiffel Tower. Just something with a lot of history that isn’t in Scotland…

I can’t say we learnt any other aspects of history considering my love for history is so strong. Like many children out there my love of history has been passed down from my parents – my mother is hugely interested in World War Two and two of my great grandfathers on my father’s side worked in yorkshire mines together and I have been lucky enough to have heard so many stories about this. From having this background when it came to holidays abroad, my go to activity choice was always the local museum or the local church because I knew that way I would be learning something about somewhere else and not just Scotland. I mean, I live here and I find once you’ve done a topic once, with the best will in the world you don’t want to do it again for a couple of years…

It is widely known that the Scottish Government requires that schools offer at least one Scottish History topic at Higher level. This gives teachers as much room as they like to teach as many other topics as they please. After all isn’t the Scottish curriculum meant to be based around what the children want to learn? I personally love the diversity that the Scottish curriculum gives teachers and think it makes my job easier trying to gain childrens interest in the classroom around all sorts of subjects. No other government in europe that I can find recommend that teachers only teach about the history of their country and having read the House of Lords recommendations for teaching history also, it does not state anywhere that it is compulsory to only teach history from Britain. It infact clearly states that children should learn about history in “Britain and in other parts of the world”.

I love history of all aspects and that includes Scottish history too. Scottish history is something that I feel if you are Scottish you should be exposed to at some part of your life, as it is your heritage and part of your nationality. Just as if you are French I feel you should be exposed to French History at some part of your life. Overall, I feel that this is a topic that everyone feels strongly about whether it be down to heritage or just opinions, but I hope I have given you something to think about. It certainly gave me something to think about however, I know how I want to run my classroom and I will certainly be open to teaching all aspects of history in this great world.



2 thoughts on “Is Scottish history the only history that matters in the classroom?

  1. Richard

    I think there is an argument for local history esp in EYs as can be more relevant. But I also think we should select various topics from all sorts of periods, and allow for skills to be applied, and themes investigated. One of my favourite, and most successful, history topics when teaching focussed on local history through the ages and started with Neolithic history. Your point about political intervention in education is very interesting and one I can’t disagree with either.

    1. Katie Rebecca Whitham Post author

      Thank you Richard. I love history and could debate about it all day. Something I will definitely be looking into more will be Neolithic history so thank for pointing me in that direction. The more into teaching I get, the more I see politics intervening in education and I don’t know at all how I feel about that. I just hope it is always for the right reasons.
      Katie Rebecca


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