Empires are an important phenomenon in history. If we believe that a historical education can have an impact on people’s views and beliefs, they should have some understanding of what empires are, and what effect they have on people’s and nations’ lives. What questions are worth asking about the concept of Empire at this point in the 21st century? And what should people know and understand about Empire?
Controversy and Contest
Debates about empire in the UK have had a prominent public profile in recent years. Several historians and politicians have argued that schools do not teach about the British Empire, or that they do so in an anti-British way. In order to explore these claims about the teaching of the British Empire in schools, I did a small exploratory survey about the teaching of empire.
All the departments consulted reported that they did teach the topic, although some spent more time on it than others. Nearly all of the r…