I HAVE a history of calling out nationalism in education, as do many progressives. Our children deserve better. They are global citizens growing up in an interconnected world. Narrow nationalist ideas and parochial power-games have no place in the classrooms. We need to expand children’s view of the world, not reduce it to the toxic tribalism which ripped the world apart in two world wars and continues to create artificial tensions alongside the hollowing out of debate.

The issue of nationalism in the curriculum reared its head again recently – even when schools were on summer holidays. The release of a FOI to Scottish Government revealed numerous edits called for by Scottish civil servants in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee school textbooks. These books were to be freely printed, distributed and available to every UK school child. Uptake of the books in Scotland had been particularly patchy. Schools did not get them as a matter of due course but had to request them. Few schools did it seemed in some areas. Some areas only got copies of the books upon nudging about them being available.

It was always going to be a political hot-potato. On one hand, the jubilee was a significant Scottish, UK and world event. On the other hand, politicisation was always a potential given the current state of affairs regarding a second independence referendum.

The requested edits to the book have been described by some commentators as childish although some proposed changes were valid.

The key point is just that multiple perspectives are needed and school children are entitled to be given access to them all and to consider them all as part of holistic learning alongside considering things like bias and propaganda.

I have previously raised concerns about the narrow nature of the Scottish schools’ history curriculum with topic choices in senior phase presenting major issues.

British history is reduced to boring and heinous acts, meanwhile Scottish history topics present pro-Scottish nationalist triumphs. Bits of history are rubbed away including the time when Scotland was many nations of many peoples with links to Scandinavia, Ireland and indeed…. dare I say it… England. African history sadly does not appear at all.

The same happens south of the Border, where it might be argued an even more restrictive curriculum offer is presented to children. The choice of historical figures and events that are taught all influences the minds of our young. This happens in Scotland, England, America and various parts of Europe.

Political influence on the curriculum is widespread – no matter what those in power tell you. I spent part of my career supporting post-war and conflict-threat zones in forming a multi-perspective curricula and teaching that promoted cooperation, broad curricula and effective pedagogies, all away from the overt influence of politics.

We need more of these sort of approaches in a fragmenting and conflict-ridden world. Russian nationalist aggression is matched by a seething cauldron of nationalist discontents in the South China Sea.

Children need to understand the history to how these crisis points came about, are at risk of coming about and, most importantly, how to get to avoid and defuse them. This promotion of cooperation needs to happen at both a classroom level and a global diplomatic level. It requires good group formation, accountabilities and great skills whether for school kids cooperating in the classroom or diplomats attempting to keep global peace.

Only the young can forge our future. The jubilee textbooks would have given an opportunity for global history exploration. This ever-present school textbook debate opens thinking about multi-perspective approaches in today’s broken world.

With both Edinburgh and Glasgow showing the way in decolonisation approaches, maybe there should have been more in the textbooks, or more textbooks, on global matters? Maybe that needs to start with our curriculum though, as well as single textbooks?

Neil McLennan is an educator, author and former President of the Scottish Association of Teachers of History (SATH)