Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"A nation without a past doesn't have much of future..."

I must say I find that this is a shocking set of facts and statistics:
Unlike in most European countries, the teaching of history is no longer compulsory in British schools after the age of 14, and evidence suggests that the history curriculum in our country is deeply flawed. The following findings from surveys conducted over the last few years offer some alarming insights into this matter. It was found that 70 per cent. of 11 to 18-year-olds did not know that Nelson’s flagship at the battle of Trafalgar was called HMS Victory. More than 20 per cent. of 16 to 24-year-olds thought that Britain had, at one stage, been conquered by the Germans, the Americans or the Spanish. Several children mistook Sir Winston Churchill for the first man to walk on the moon. He also joins King Richard the Lionheart and Florence Nightingale as being mistaken regularly by our youth as a creation of fiction.

Conservative Romford MP and Shadow Home Affairs Minister Andrew Rosindell introducing his "Teaching of British History in Schools" Bill last week. He hopes to make British history a core subject in schools at all ages- I can only wish him the best in his attempts to ensure our children know exactly where they and their nation is coming from.

6 comments:

The Aberdonian said...

The Scottish government was complaining about schools in the Stirling/Falkirk area dropping history as a subject.

Rosindell's bill treads on the toes of the devolved administrations so it will not get through.

As you may have guessed, history is taught differently in the various parts of the UK - even before devolution.

observer said...

Just found this blog - interesting.
History's history depends on who is interested and who is writing it.
It can be slanted in many ways.
What is your opinion on Irish history? How far back should we go in the exploration of history, Irish or British? Would it be your preference to start Irish history at the plantation?
By the way, do you know the literal translation of the word Belfast?

Anonymous said...

But Britain was conquered by the Germans ... we have a German monarchy!

It was conquered by the Americans ... we hosted their military bases with tactical nuclear weapons!

And it is being conquered by the Spanish. Look what happened to Abbey National and BAA!

I think these 11-18 year olds have a far better grasp of history than the jingoistic version some people want them to learn.

tony said...

I think it was St. Mungo's in Falkirk Aberdonian. Bizzare considering that our kids are now taught Scottish history and seemingly enjoying it(well the ones I know are) Sadly when I was at secondary school in the eighties all we learned was the history of the English dressed up as British history.

How's yirsel Obs?

O'Neill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
O'Neill said...

Aberdonian,

IMO history needs to be a compulsory subject exactly for the reasons Rosindell states. He also in his speech stresses the need for Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish history to be taught. I can't see why the devolved administrations, other than the fact of bloody-mindedness would object.

Observer,


It can be slanted in many ways.

Not history itself but its interpretation can be slanted to what people want to hear.

What is your opinion on Irish history? How far back should we go in the exploration of history, Irish or British? Would it be your preference to start Irish history at the plantation?

More than several years ago, I was taught Irish history (and actually also literature) alongside the overall British and European versions at the state grammar school I attended, so it wouldn't be a revolutionary concept to extend it throughout the system. Within the narrower NIrish context, it would be interesting to look at a scheme which has been operating between France and Germany for the last 5 years. A group of historians from both countries have been studying and preparing an analysis for schools of the more contentious parts of their joint history- if I have time, I'll have to check their progress

By the way, do you know the literal translation of the word Belfast?

I do indeed; if you're interested in old gaelic place names you might be interested with the end of this post:
http://unionistlite.blogspot.com/2009/01/bit-more-on-cregagh-saint.html

Anonymous,

I think you have the touch of the jingos yourself there;)