History like it used to be
Because I was taught history properly by my prep-school teacher Mr Bradshaw, my head is full of easily accessible dates which I know I’ll never forget. Obviously, I know Crécy (1346) and Agincourt (1415), but I also know one or two more obscure ones like those of Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet. This is because of a cunning acronym Brad taught me — a phone number BROM 4689 — which I dare say I remembered mainly because at the time I lived in Bromsgrove.
According to the new history-teaching orthodoxy, of course, dates are an unwelcome imposition on a child’s creative spirit. What matters now is not whether you can remember why, when or by whom great battles were fought, but how well you can empathise with the misery felt by their participants. Not royal or noble participants, obviously, because they’re insufficiently representative of the common man. This is why every Nu Generation history teacher’s favourite war is the Crimean War: because then you get to bring in Mary Seacole.
How do we stop our kids being bored rigid by this turgid PC drivel? How do we rescue them from the even more depressing new orthodoxy, whereby history is to be taught not as an exciting narrative about goodies and baddies shoving red-hot pokers up kings’ bottoms and sailing the seas in ships called Shit Fire, but as a multiplicity of competing viewpoints which render all attempts at objectivity ultimately meaningless?
One option is to drip-feed them at home with excerpts from proper old-school history books like H.E. Marshall’s Our Island Story (republished by Civitas), Ladybird Series 561 classics like King Alfred the Great and Oliver Cromwell, or George Chamier’s more recent When It Happened in Britain. Another is to get them watching the BBC’s Horrible Histories (CBBC). Not that they’ll need much persuasion. If they’re anything like my kids, they’ll be on to it already — probably viewing it on computers via BBC’s iPlayer because that’s how the inheritors of the earth do things these days.
(to read more, click here)
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