Over 1,000 people have signed a petition calling for the teaching of Welsh history in Wales’ schools. Here its creator, Elfed Wyn Jones, explains what inspired him to start it.
If you stopped a passer-by in a street in Wales, and asked them to sum up our nation’s history, what would they say?
They would probably mention 1066, Henry VIII and his six wives, and the First and Second World War.
But what if you said: ‘No, I mean Wales’ history.’ Would their eyes narrow? Would they scratch their head as they rummaged around in the back-rooms of their mind for some half-forgotten fact from our nation’s past?
They would eventually probably come up with something vague bout Owain Glyndŵr, or miners or quarrymen depending on where in Wales they come from.
It’s unlikely however that they would have any real grasp our national history, and the effect it has had on their daily lives, and its importance in our present and future.
From the Laws of Hywel Dda to the Acts of Union, through to the boom of the industrial revolution and the fight for our own parliament, Wales has a rich history that goes back thousands of years.
Much of this history will remain mouldering in the attics of the nation’s subconscious, and unless you pursue a postgrad degree in Welsh history you’ll never get to hear about most of it.
Milan Kundera said that “the first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history”.
After that “have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long that nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was”.
“The struggle of man against power,” he said, “is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”
I’m currently on a process of discovering Welsh history, but I would never have done so unless I had gone looking for it.
I can recall only two lessons on Welsh history at school, one about Llywelyn, the last Prince of Wales, and the other about Owain Glyndŵr.
And these lessons were mere “add-ons” to the main curriculum, just to give us a little taste of ‘local’ history.
I set up a petition to ask our national parliament to introduce Welsh history on the curriculum because I don’t want the children of Wales to miss out like I did.
I would like the Welsh Assembly to craft a curriculum that includes every aspect of Welsh history and is relevant to every part of Wales and children from every background.
If we don’t know what paths we’ve travelled along in our past, how do we know where we’re going in the future?
So please, sign the petition, to teach our children about who we are, and to unite Wales under a curriculum that shines a light on every corner of our nation’s history.