Tuesday, 14 July 2009

History is more or less bunk ?

t seems that there is a generation of teenagers who know almost nothing about the history of Britain.

Professor Derek Matthews says that this is because schools are sidelining knowledge in favour of trendy topics and generic skills.

He decided to investigate by setting them five simple questions. Over three years, 284 UK-educated first-years took the test, which demanded basic knowledge the professor believes 'every 18-year-old should know'.

In total, the students answered just 26.7 per cent of questions correctly - just over one in five. Students with A*s or As in history GCSE fared little better, answering just a third correctly.


He recounted in his report how students in a typical tutorial had never heard of the Reformation and did not know what was meant by the term Protestant. One thought Martin Luther was an American civil rights leader.
His students were probably in the top 15 per cent of their age group for educational success.
'This implies that, all things being equal, 85 per cent of my undergraduates' age group know even less than they do.
'In other words, we are looking at a whole generation that knows almost nothing about the history of their (or anyone else's) country.'

  • 1. Who was the general in charge of the British army at the battle of Waterloo?
  • 2. Who was the reigning monarch when the Spanish Armarda attacked Britain?
  • 3. What was Isambard Brunel's profession?
  • 4. Name one Prime Minister of Britain in the 19th Century?
  • 5. In what country was the Boer War of 1899 to 1902 fought?


Is it that we have moved away from valuing rigorous subject teaching and education as a good in itself?
Is the only thing taught Ignorance itself?
is not deemed Politically Correct?
Are we ashamed of this nations Past?
Is it down to underfunding?
In the light of fringe parties such as the BNP gaining votes it is incredibly important that we ensure that young people are aware (politically aware even) of the past? Knowing the past can set the frame for how we think about the future.

Not to know what has been transacted in former times is to continue always a child. If no use is made of the labors of past ages, the world must remain always in the infancy of knowledge.

Any country's education policy will be framed by the context of that nation's history and it is vital that every generation is given the chance to take pride in our country’s past.

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