Classics Don in Coalition Curriculum Spat
Mary Beard has slammed Simon Schama’s role as an advisor on the new history curriculum.
Cambridge classics professor Mary Beard has slammed the coalition’s decision to appoint Simon Schama as an adviser to ministers on the new history curriculum for schools.
No stranger to the spotlight, Beard has hit the headlines for calling the government’s move, “celebrity culture at its most meretricious”. She railed against MP Michael Gove’s announcement this week, denouncing him as “playing to the populist gallery”.
Beard advocates instead appointing a team of experienced teachers to draw up the syllabus, adding that Schama, who lectures at Columbia University, is “necessarily out of touch”, much like historian Niall Ferguson, another “Tory brainwave” for this scheme.
And she didn’t stop there, stating “this is also penny pinching… Prof Schama is not only glitzy, but also cheap.”
The government has been “seduced by celebrity” says the Guardian, supporting Beard’s suspicion that these famous names are to mask the decision not to create a team of knowledgeable teachers and experts for the job.
Nor is this the first time Beard’s outspoken views have raised eyebrows. Described as a “wickedly subversive commentator” on her own blog, she’s famous for her scathing attacks on the US following 9/11.
Contributing to the London Review of Books in 2001 she stated that “however tactfully you dress it up, the United States had it coming…world bullies, even if their heart is in the right place, will in the end pay the price.”
The ensuing outcry resulted in the removal of her article and a spate of hostility towards her continuing right up until 2007. Beard admitted that her comments had “put off…people I’d liked to have more to do with intellectually”. However, she remained unrepentant, declaring obstinately, “you can’t always worry about offending people.”