Sir Tony Robinson Decries Michael Gove’s -Absurd- World War I Historical Revisionism

The Blackadder star Sir Tony Robinson has come out with some harsh words for Michael Gove, countering Gove’s point concerning teaching World War I from a patriotic viewpoint as akin to what might be found in some of the least desirable regions of the world.

Gove’s comments made in Januarycreated a firestorm of controversy over historical revisionism, when he called for lessons in history to be presented properly, suggesting that Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig’s competence had been unfairly assaulted. The battle of the Somme, where thousands of British soldiers lost their lives, had been the work of a leader who served his country while “grappling honestly with the new complexities of industrial warfare” he said.

Sir Tony Robinson, an author of award winning children’s books on World War II, takes issue with the idea that children would be taught history from a specific ideological viewpoint. He spoke further on Michael Gove’s revisionist comments, saying they put student’s critical reasoning abilities in jeopardy, while saying of the teachers, and the curriculum that they teach to students, “they should be taught it by people who believe it’s important that kids have the right to make up their own mind about what’s going on.”

Sir Tony’s comments come from a man who has dedicated his career to educating children on war. He’s memorable for his part as the presenter of the popular television series Time Team, which ran for 20 years until coming to an end in 2013. His history books engage children through comedy, on the First World War he write that it saw “no heroics and definitely no glory.”

Historical Revisionism

In that context Sir Tony explains his disagreement with Mr. Gove’s statements asserting his belief that the grave and sometimes macabre sections of history are perfectly safe for approach from a humorous or ironic position, The Telegraph reports.

Sir Tony would go on to bring attention to his assertion that there are fewer non-fiction books being aimed at younger readers than fiction. He reflected upon his early childhood in the mid-20th century which included many factual works aimed at children.

Michael Gove’s bout of historical revisionism came as the U.K. government prepared to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. Members of his conservative party spoke to press anonymously, calling for Mr. Gove to “get back in his box.”


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE