History is history?

In Britain, the History A-level (for non-UK people, that's the specialised exam in history which you can opt to take at age 18) is to be scrapped.  The subject is, apparently, too difficult and too irrelevant.

A shame -- history is the one discipline which should demand the whole range of intellectual knowledge and analytical method, from economics to languages to literary theory.  As the great Marc Bloch commented, context is as large as the historian cares to make it.  It's demise is surely symptomatic of the rise of pragmatism, utilitarian notions of education and, most sad of all, the failure of too many history teachers to do anything other than names and dates.  Then, the `new left' (as opposed to the `old left' that basically wanted a decent deal for the poor, without all the arbitrary categorical ideology) has dissolved the subject into identity politics and one long tirade against the West, while the `new right' has simply reacted in an equal and opposite direction.  Critical history, truly critical history, is a rare commodity.

And the Christian world hasn't done much better.  Christians inclined to be too smug in light of potential developments in British education should pause for self-reflection.  `Christian' approaches to history are too often merely hagiographic reconstructions of a mythical past, our own style of identity politics -- the reason why I gave a paper at the Conference on Faith and History some years ago entitled `Why I am not a Christian Historian'.   Critical history, a history which teaches people to think, to be self critical while yet not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, has never been a strong suit in the church.