Sunday, March 13, 2011

Knowing your roots

I love history, be it local or national, even international and I'm an avid watcher of various documentaries about history and often get wrong or told to shut up by my good lady when I start to contradict the presenter. I'm even at the stage now of being told in advance of any film or programme to just keep quiet and enjoy it rather than nit pick the fallacisms in dress, weapons, facts and what really happened. I guess I'm quite the bore to the family, on the otherhand I tell them I'm not interested in who's having who in Corrieastendhollyoaks or whatever they're watching. All part of family life in castle QM and possibly a few other families, though I really wouldn't know, it's just a guess.
One of the things I did discover today though is that England is unique, sadly we're unique in being the only country in Europe that stops teaching history at 14, rather than 16.

Telegraph.

Children’s understanding of the past is being undermined by poor history teaching and crowded timetables, Government inspectors warned today.

Ofsted said history suffered in many primary schools because of weak subject knowledge among staff and the use of “disconnected topics” in lessons.
At secondary level, growing numbers of pupils are now exposed to just two years of compulsory history classes instead of the recommended three.
In a damning conclusion, the watchdog warned that England was the only country in Europe where schoolchildren were allowed to stop studying history at the age of 13.
History teaching was good in around three-quarters of primary schools, Ofsted said, but teachers “found it difficult to establish a clear mental map of the past for pupils”.
The report told of one primary school curriculum that skipped from the Romans and Ancient Egypt to the Tudors and then the Victorians in subsequent years.
 Keeping the narrative going is something that schools even back in my days weren't so good at, though I don't recall learning about ancient Egyptians in history, we did cover them somewhat in RE though and I do remember something about papyrus too. We learned a bit about Rome though, again mostly due to the fact that we lived next to the Roman Wall and that the Romans were in England for 400 years and built a lot of roads, smacked down Boadicea (before Boudicca became de rigeur) built a wall to keep the barbarians out, then left. We then did a little bit about knights and Robin Hood, also some Scots guy and a spider before a massive jump through to the Tudors, mostly concentrating on the Elizabethan age and the Spanish Armada, quick trip into the Stuarts and the English civil war (though not why, simply a look at puritans, roundheads and cavaliers) and that was primary history over and done with.
Secondary history was a complete shambles, we studied from the most boring book imaginable, "A social and economic history of Britain" a book so utterly unique that it managed to erase all mention of the Napoleonic wars along with the Bill of Rights, and focussed instead on child poverty and the Chartist Movement, though it did mention the Peterloo massacre and the Tollpuddle Martyrs, looking back it was a socialist re-editing of history to remove the fun and the interesting bits along with any sense of glory and national pride.
Yet history if taught properly and accurately is vital to our society as it binds us together and gives us a sense of belonging, no wonder socialists hate the subject, imperialism and nationalism being a couple of their bogeymen. 
I guess I was lucky my love for history wasn't erased at school, though I suspect a bit of that was down to my family being interested in it along with a liking for historical cinema of the epic variety. Films like Spartacus, El Cid etc all combining with an inquisitive mind to make me go looking through dusty tomes at the local library, not that their selection was that great, but it was still better than what was available at school.
These days it's so much easier with the internet available yet still teachers struggle with the curriculum and history, mostly it's down to trying to cram too much in, it should be simplified and some stuff removed. But history of our nation should be made both interesting and compulsory up to 16, not random bits, but a narrative stream to show how we came to be. 

7 annotations:

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX I love history, be it local or national, even international and I'm an avid watcher of various documentaries about history and often get wrong or told to shut up by my good lady when I start to contradict the presenter. I'm even at the stage now of being told in advance of any film or programme to just keep quiet and enjoy it rather than nit pick the fallacisms in dress, weapons, facts and what really happened. XX

Are we twins?

English Pensioner said...

I suspect all of our teaching is unique. I don't think that there is any other country in Europe that teaches so little to children over so long a period at school. Nor I suspect are there any countries where the teachers would tolerate the behaviour of pupils that appears to me endemic in many of our state schools.

The Boiling Frog said...

...focussed instead on child poverty and the Chartist Movement, though it did mention the Peterloo massacre and the Tollpuddle Martyrs, looking back it was a socialist re-editing of history to remove the fun and the interesting bits along with any sense of glory and national pride.

That's so true, I had a similar history education. (don't forget the match girls' strikes of 1888) Nothing was taught about the wars themselves, everything I know about 19th and 20th century wars is self taught.

And when you get to degree level (as I did) you then have to unlearn everything taught at school as their interpretation of why events happen turns out to be incorrect.

James Higham said...

The teaching of history is an ultra-political issue, which is why it has been hijacked in our schools.

Lemmi said...

I must be slightly older than you as when I did my O level history on British and European History 1789 -1870 there was lots of lovely stuff on the wars and causes thereof. We also covered the French Revolution and all the myths associated with that. The Napoleonic stuff was fantastic.

Captain Haddock said...

"Knowing Your Roots" ?

Come on QM .. as we all know, if you happen to be English, you aren't permitted to have any roots ..

The concept goes totally against the Left's view of history ..

Jacobite said...

The further you look back in history the more you will see the future. "Winston Churchill"