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All the Nines: Creativity in English Curricula in England in 1919, 1989 and 2019 as a Reflection of Britain’s Place in Europe

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Just after the First World War the English Association published The Teaching of English in Schools. It argues that developing children’s ‘creative spirit’ is fundamental to maintaining peace in Europe. Seventy years later, the first National Curriculum promotes a creative, unitary English appropriate for ‘a European context’.

In contrast, today’s national curriculum contains no reference to the role of English in international relations; simultaneously, all references to creativity have disappeared.

As Britain struggles to cope with the fallout from Brexit, this paper – written from a hermeneutic perspective – discusses the correlation between how each of the three documents positions English in an international context and how they value creativity. Without wishing to over–simplify complex issues, it questions how to what extent a curriculum might echo or shape national politics. It calls for a new curriculum that embraces a creative, internationalist view of English to inspire communities of the future.
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Keywords: English; Europe; creativity; hermeneutic; history; international; national curriculum; policy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Education, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

Publication date: July 2, 2020

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