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Saturday, 5 October, 2002, 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK
Charles attacks 'shallow' education
Prince Charles visits Londonderry school
Charles: "History is not bunk"
Prince Charles has stressed the importance of learning British history at school.

The prince said many well qualified school leavers had a "shallow-rooted" education because they did not know about their national heritage.

Prince Charles was speaking at a summer school named after him in Devon.

He told his audience history was not "bunk" and the past did matter.

They lack valuable and essential knowledge and understanding about their national history and heritage

Prince Charles

The pilot three-day school is being attended by 80 secondary school teachers from across the south west, and among the 16 guest speakers are Sir John Mortimer and Sir Trevor Nunn.

Poet laureate Andrew Motion, another high profile figure attending the conference, also spoke out to claim the exam culture promoted by the government was suffocating children's imaginations.

The summer school at Dartington Hall in Totnes, Devon, was designed to enable teachers, academic experts, authors and historians share their love of English and history.

In his speech, Prince Charles said it was a "tragedy" that "the crucial shared link between generations should be somewhat ruptured".

Exam 'straitjacket'

"Many of those who leave school with good qualifications nevertheless have an education which is somewhat shallow-rooted," he said.

"They lack valuable and essential knowledge and understanding about their national history and heritage."

He called on the teachers to try to escape the "narrow straightjacket" of the modern curriculum.

"We have to be ambitious in what we want to show young people they can do if we want them to be ambitious in turn," he added.

Andrew Motion
Andrew Motion: Too many pressures on children
"The consequence of not doing this is that we end up with an entire generation of culturally disinherited young people."

The prince was recently criticised for speaking out on wide-ranging subjects in letters to government ministers.

Mr Motion told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it was important the conference delivered some practical proposals which would give the government food for thought.

He said: "The principal message we are trying to put forward is that even though the government has done all kinds of very good things for education in recent years, there are nevertheless pressures on children now to do with having to be examined at every level, which have squeezed the opportunities that they have for thinking more imaginatively, particularly about English and history.

"If we think about education purely in utilitarian terms, then something has disappeared from what education is supposed to be."

He said the introduction of two-stage A-levels meant pupils had lost their previous freedom, in the first years after GCSEs, to think and read more widely, in the knowledge that the next exams were still some time off.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Peter Dickinson
"These comments are further evidence that he's determined to speak out on matters which he feels strongly about"
Poet Laureate Andrew Motion
"Pressure has squeezed children's opportunities to think imaginatively about subjects like literature and history"
See also:

27 Sep 02 | Politics
25 Sep 02 | Politics
25 Sep 02 | Politics
25 Sep 02 | Politics
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