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I've read a lot of histories on here, some are interesting, some not so!
Sara I cringe at some of the answers given to quiz questions and wonder what they are learning in school. Apart from Google there are plenty of history books out there, probably most of them in Charity shops unused unopened unloved, I would give them a home on my book shelves.Sue, History is in the eye of the beholder or so I found when reading the written report of a Patrol we did, nothing like what actually happened, written up by a clerk in the office, bare bones and short on facts. I spend a lot of time on the local history board and correct a lot of the hearsay stuff they get in as true, saw it with my own eye's stuff as with one who remembered the Bombs dropping on Norton, he was two at the time???
According to some of the folks I used to work with, the Battle of Britain took place in 1066.
The trouble is, you tend to start off in school with things like the Romans, which is soooo long ago, no-one in school gives a foetid dingo's kidney about. Yes, we are bloodthirsty little darlings, so love the stories about Guy Fawkes being hung, drawn and quartered for trying to blow up the houses of Pariament, but by the time you get to choose options at school, most people have been completely put off, by things that happened centuries ago, that don't seem to have anything to do with the world today.
When I did GCSE History, we did the history of the American West, and the History of Medicine. The history of medicine was great, as you got to learn lots of gory stuff, like the flagellants who thought that the plague was punishment from God, and went around whipping themselves to show penitence in the hope that God would spare them. Didn't work of course. Then there were sewers and public health, in ancient Rome the main sewer was named the cloaca maxima and you could drive a horse and cart through it. Then War, major advances in medicine are always driven by war, from the easiest way to remove a barbed arrow, to ampuation, penicillin and the Guinea Pig Club.
I don't know about now, but we don't seem to be teaching the Modern stuff that has a bearing on the world today. When I explained about Harold getting an eyeful in 1066 and that being the Battle of Hastings, and 1940 being the year of the Battle of Britain, and how the first world war lead to the second, and the assasination of the Archduke Ferdinand by a pissed-off Serbian starting the first big one off, questions were coming thick & fast, some I could answer, some not, by the time I went back to my desk, the questions I couldn't answer were being Googled. So it's not the fault of the kids, because with the right spark, they are really keen to learn about the World Wars, and how we used to live, the Blitz, Rationing, Conscription, Reserved Occupations, Conchies, the lot. The teachers are equally keen to teach them our rich heritage, but their hands are tied by the National Curriculum, if it's not on there, they don't have the time to teach it.
I was lucky, my Mum started my love of history by stories of her being terrified by the big burbling things in the sky, where you were OK as long as they were noisy, but terrifying when they cut out - she was describing the V1 Doodlebugs, and the kitchen table she was sheltering under was a Morrison Shelter. At the time, she lived in Hastings, and was 9 when the war ended. I also know about PLUTO, as she saw the boats it was loaded on to, and she remembers balancing on the big pipes they had in hastings, connected to containers of oil, in order to set the sea alight if anyone tried landing in Hastings.
History can come alive if you have the right person describing it. They don't have to have been there (but it helps!), that questioning spark we all have within us just needs to be set alight. Knickers to the Romans, we need to be teaching our children recent history, whilst the folks that lived through it are still around to tell their stories.
Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori.
Like your comments MMP, and agree with everything you said. Not sure I agree with 'knickers to the Romans' though, especially as you finished up with a quote by Roman poet and satirist, Horace
Kids nowadays think Churchill's that b****y dog on the adverts....
Apparently they were wanting to phase out teaching children about WW2. Why???? Methinks this country need a giant kick up the rear end sometimes.
Sara- you have to laugh don't you? JR...gawwd almighty!
Just keep taking the tablets....that's what I do!
Pentillie, I only know that quote from doing the war poets in English! Not sure if it was Wilfrid Owen or Siegfried Sasoon, I do like the idea of it being a lie though, no honour in being blown to bits or gassed into oblivion, especially after enduring the squalor of the trenches, the cold, wet, mud, grotty rations and no chance of a hot cup of tea.
In the words of Pink Floyd:
Forward! He cried from the rear,
and the front rank died
and the generals sat
and the lines on the map
moved from side to side.
I suppose I meant that the Romans are from so long ago that it didn't spark my imagination in the same way learning about doodlebugs did. I now have weighty tomes I have waded through on the subject, as Churchill was such a dude - just look at his exchanges with Lady Astor!
I seem to have studied the same subjects as you - your quote was from Wilfred Owen, after Horace.
Funny you mentioning Nancy Astor - I have loads of correspondence from her to my Mum,sent in 1941 when she was Lady Mayoress of Plymouth. My parents house had been bombed by German aircraft, and they were buried under their house for two days. Their 6-month old baby girl was killed, and nobody knew where they had taken her body. Lady Astor got involved and sorted out everything for Mum - the letters are lovely, and it's nice to think that a lady of her position, in the madness that was Plymouth in the blitz, had the time, and the compassion shown in her letters, to thnk of the suffering of the Town
Whilst we should never forget distant history, which has coloured all subsequent events, children of today should be given more detailed lessons on subjects like WW2 - if only to make them understand why today's foolish politicians never seem to understand the possible results of all their stupid posturing and sabre-rattling.
Learning by one's mistakes is very appropriate when talking of History.
Pentillie- a wonderfu,l if poignant, story.
Where do we sign the petition....? I'm in if you are.
I remember when the national curriculum started ruining history as an interesting subject. We were taught to answer specific areas of questioning, with never a thought to the chronological order of events, and not necessarily with even a gesture of interest in cause and effect. Therefore Russian Revolution and French Revolution were more or less the same thing as Mao Tse Tung but had Rasputin and Marie Antoinette in. The Liberal Government of 1906 - 14 nearly unified Ireland, but then didn't. The rise of the Labour party was a completely separate subject, and the Americans had some sort of tiff internally but mostly tipped tea into harbours. None of these events were linked in any unified way, and I'm not sure that WW1 happened at all, except so there could be reparations to cause WW2.
I was lucky enough, however, to take part in a project whereby school children recorded pensioners' recollections of their lives - this was in 1975 so many did remember the 1914/18 war, the roaring 20s, the rise of Trade Unions, the depression AND WW2. This was part of our English syllabus and convinced me that few school subjects are 'stand alone' - literature/music/art/science are all parts of history, or products of the prevailing events. It was also fascinating, and somewhere in the world I hope the tapes have been kept for posterity - each generation loses the memory of the previous, with history re-written and 'swung' at the behest of politicians.
From the same prigramme with the JR answer yeaterday,a second question to the girls partner of "name a revoltionary from France who was stabbed in a bath" the answer given was Joan of Arc.
I find all history interesting,,even the Romans........as we have Roman Baths fairly near to us I suppose that makes this period seem a bit more relevant.
Several schools have taken the opportunity to invite war verterans to go into the schools to talk to the children which seems to me to be a particularly good way of lighting the spark of young interest,which hopefully will then stay alight throughout adult life,An enquiring mind and a love of reading are great gifts.
On the subject of the "unwanted" pop up music,it has returned with a vengence after two days,have had to turn the volume control off whilst on the forum.
Pentile, Lady Astor was the catalyst for the song, "We are the D Day Dodgers" sung to the tune of Lily Marlene. She made some very basic observations of our troops in Italy owing to a family issue calling them the D Day Dodgers."Landed at Salerno a holiday with payGerry came to greet us and send us on our way" it did not go down well with with the boys short of everything as it had all been designated for Normandy and they were fighting a hard battle all the way up the spine of Italy.For those of us who saw the end of the mandate with then Palestine we knew it would not be done until one had wiped the other out and it still goes on all these years later.Our Dave and his lot have not learned the lessons from that or Iraq, Afghanistan and all the other little wars where we stuck our Neb in and got it wrong. Take a leaf out of the book of those who stay neutral, let them sort themselves out as win or lose we never make it better.All history from well before the Romans adds some colour to the big picture, each generation would learn from the last one and we gradually got to where we are today mainly because of the mistakes they made and we took to heart. On a time line from the ice age we can see the gradual enlightenment and the dark ages so called were not so dark after all.My grandchildren are being taught World War 11 history and they ask me some very relevant questions, what I know I answer the things I do not know I look up in my library of history books and if it is not there then I go to the reference section of the main library, they want to know I do all I can to get the answers for them.The family left here a short while back, listening talking about times now long gone I realise it is all still fresh to them, a rock in fast running water they cling too, the grandchildren also listening and learning that family coming together talking about the past and future is all part of a settled life.
Always told my girls 'never be frightened to ask questions' when they went to school. Told them it's the smart children who ask the questions not the stupid ones and a good teacher should see that. It's vital children learn about recent history then they can understand how things evolve, although they don't necessarily get better unfortunately. History was unbelievably dull when I was at school yet I now find it fascinating. Many schools have a much better way of teaching it too so that it isn't dull.
Palaisglide, agree that Nancy Astor was not always a pleasant person, and apparently did not like Catholics or Jews - also before the war it was felt she had Nazi sympathies ( although she commented that Adolf reminded her of Charlie Chaplin). Nevertheless, she treated my Mum with great kindness, and was pretty popular in Plymouth - perhaps,like a lot of Americans, she didn't always think before opening her mouth. ( apologies to any Yanks reading this probably totally incorrect generalisation! )
Narratives like yours and mine all add little snippets to historical events and about people, and enrich everyone's knowledge of how things really were - perhaps our politicians should have listened more to their parents and grandparents; we may have avoided some of the messes they walked into!
Frank, I love your final paragraph, in phrase in sentiment and wisdom.
Fairygirl/Daughter you did right, though I did get into trouble for asking questions.In the days we put on our Sunday best and went to the Village Church as a family and also attended Sunday school plus choir practice we were lectured on Biblical themes, I am afraid that even then I queried what I was told much to the astonishment of the local Vicar later Canon. He would as was the norm back then try corporal punishment, water off a ducks back to me, my brain said he does not know so I get punished for his being unable to argue the case. In our house at a time children were seen and not heard we were encouraged to talk through the days happenings, the news, and anything else we wished. At secondary school where we would be encouraged to ask questions, research our subjects and being only 14 in the class helped, we got almost one to one tuition.I say my progress through life was down to my parents healthy attitude and the solid schooling we got from top class teachers and thank them.Pentillie as a lad we were never encouraged to mix with Catholics, they differed from us so we were told, lads being lads we all played together but marry one? A friend had to marry in the registry office because he was C of E she was Catholic neither church would marry them and it was the case well into the early sixties.I came back from the Middle East with a hatred of all things Jewish and was re-educated by a lovely Jewish Lady who convinced me you cannot hate a Nation, she was right and I was so wrong and admitted that fact. I am now firmly convinced we should not interfere in National Politics, two sides to every story and which is right??I watched them all today, Children and Grandchildren, all the add ons who I never see as in-laws but extra Sons and Daughters, mixing laughing helping get the tea clear away wash up watching the wedding video's and all even the very youngest commenting, I think Joan and I did a good job bringing up a well mannered and very sociable family.
I've enjoyed reading over these really interesting and intelligent entries, catching up after being away for a couple of weeks. FG, I so agree about asking questions on class. I always told my pupils that asking questions was a sign of intelligence and that there were no stupid questions. Stupidity was not asking questions. I was brought up to be atheist and am now a Christian, because I asked questions and looked for answers. I taught religion and gave two sides of every argument, always encouraging pupils to argue, think and debate until they found answers that satisfied them. Anything else is indoctrination and is completely counter-productive and worthless, as well as disrespectful.
I loved reading Sara's comments about all educational topics being interrelated, too. Wisdom is seeing the connections between things. I read somewhere that, as people get older, the way their minds work changes. They no longer collect facts and information and find these things harder to remember because their minds are now examining the relationships between things and developing a philosophy of life, which is real wisdom. So age really does bring wisdom, as traditional cultures have always taught.