....discussion with an academic, about how history is no longer taught in schools. Having had a number of similar discussions with teenagers and with teachers on the same subject, I find the scene deeply depressing.
The standard secondary school system now teaches chiefly (1) the Tudors in England and (2) the rise of the Nazis in Germany, and the Second World War, I started to realise this a few years ago, when a bright teenager told me of her weariness in being made to "do" the Second World War and the Nazis for the fourth time..."I'm so tired of it. I want to find out about the Medieval period. I love history, and I always get good marks - but I'm just so sick of learning about the Nazis again and again and again." Another said they had been given the opportunity to study Martin Luther King and the American Civil Rights Movement as an extra. "And I thhink we might be doing Margaret Thatchjer and the Miners' Strike". But that was all.
In primary school children do "themes" such as the Atlantic slave trade, Norman castles, the Roman empire, the Victorian era and the children in factories, and Suffragettes. Darting about from one era to another across the centuries, with random scrapbook and colouring-in projects. There is no essential time-line and little attempt to connect anything. No wonder children are confused and bored. I have seen some very attractive work produced by children in schools, and they get them dressing up in Victorian costumes, and imagining what it would have been like to be in a Victorian school, and so on...but they are not given the essential tools for studying history, or much motive for doing so.
In tomorrow's Britain, society will have a very strong Mohammedan input. British history will not be something that is communicated in everyday culture - stories, and nursery rhymes and jokes and well-known bits of folklore. That sort of culture is being crushed by the overwhelming pressures of the computer/mobile phone/facebook/texting/sexting/soap opera world where history and family traditions and local community events play no part. Children won't 'absorb' the history and traditions of the country into which they have been born and which in a sense is their heritage...if they are to understand such things, it will have to be through conscious teaching. Will there be teachers willing and able to do it?
At present, teachers tend to emphasise only what is "needed" for exams. "You don't need to look at the section on the 18th century - it's not part of your exam work" etc etc. There is pressure to gain the required number of "passes" for the statistics.
And so we are being robbed of our sense of identity, of belonging, of community. And then we wonder why the young feel alienated, hurt, and cynical.