Teaching Histories: Reflexivity, National Anxieties and the Neoliberal Turn

Andrew Hay


In 2013 former education secretary Michael Gove proposed changes to the history curriculum in England that sought to emphasise positive aspects of British history in an effort to fortify students’ sense of national identity. His plans were met with widespread hostility and were subsequently rejected. Critics saw Gove’s intended changes as a cynical attempt to use the teaching of history as a device for achieving political ends via the installation of paternalistic knowledge hierarchies consistent with neoliberal ideological imperatives. This article explores this claim and asks whether reflexivity can be used as a means of resisting political intrusions into spaces associated with the teaching and learning of history. After outlining the nuances of neoliberalism and reflexivity and the point at which these two phenomena intersect, this article will go on to argue for a greater degree of reflexivity in state sanctioned educational settings. With reference to the methodological approach of Michael J. Shapiro, this article concludes by offering practical suggestions as to how this aim can be achieved.



Hay, A. (2015) Teaching Histories: Reflexivity, National Anxieties and the Neoliberal Turn. Transformations, [online] Vol. 1(1). Available at: https://educationstudies.org.uk/?p=3738 [Accessed 01 Mar, 2024].


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