Their flakiest hour

There’ll always be an England, but English schoolchildren won’t know much about it. Britain’s nationally directed history curriculum no longer will require students to learn about Winston Churchill, Gandhi or Stalin. From the Evening Standard:

Secondary schools will strip back the traditional curriculum in favour of lessons on debt management, the environment and healthy eating, ministers revealed.

Even Winston Churchill no longer merits a mention after a drastic slimming-down of the syllabus to create more space for “modern” issues.

Along with Hitler, Gandhi, Stalin and Martin Luther King, the former prime minister has been dropped from a list of key figures to be mentioned in history teaching.

This means pupils may no longer hear about his stirring speeches during the Second World War, when he told Parliament that defeating Hitler would be Britain’s “finest hour”.

The only individuals now named in guidance accompanying the curriculum are anti-slavery campaigners Olaudah Equiano and William Wilberforce.

Schools also are being told to mix subjects together and offer some very short classes so other classes can run longer.

Five-minute lessons on spelling, French or German could be “drip-fed” throughout the day.

Five minutes of French? Why bother?

Betsy, a history teacher, says her U.S. students are fascinated by Churchill.

They love hearing stories about him and excerpts from his speeches. When I get to that period in history, I have about 40 Churchill quotes that I put up around the room, just to give them something to look at in the remote chance that they are bored in class. Every year, I get so many kids who get such a kick out of reading those quotes and memorizing some of the better ones. If American teens can get chills hearing about Churchill, just imagine what British kids would feel.

History without heroes is very dull, though not as dull as debt management and healthy eating.

About Joanne


  1. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Back to the Oxford Compact, huh?

  2. Lets hope they dont follow suit here in Australia, how sad.

  3. What do debt management and healthy eating have to do with history?

  4. “Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.”

    I guess they won’t be able to name who wrote that quote for his name will go the way of the wind.

    It appears the idiots are running the show over there too.

  5. “Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.”

    Healthy and ignorant. And I thought the word was subjects, not citizens.

  6. Joanne, great headline.

  7. I wonder if this ties in in any way with the idea of “no competition,” “no honor rolls,” no ideas of anyone being “excellent” (Because for someone to be better at something means that someone else has to be worse, and that leads to hurt feelings, or so current educational theory goes, and we must preserve our children from hurt feelings).

    The idea that there are “no heroes” seems to fit in with that.

    I could be wrong – I’m writing from a U.S. perspective and that’s Britain, but it also seems here in the U.S. so much of the history teaching is now devoted to what we’ve done that’s bad or wrong in the past (which is really not an improvement over the shining, hagiographic history teaching style of the 19th century, and may in fact do more harm than that did). I daresay there are more kids that are aware of the fact that Jefferson kept slaves than are aware of all the inventions he came up with…

    And I sort of bristle at nutrition and debt management replacing things like history….somehow, it seems to me that it pushes people further on the road to being purely-functional automatons with no interest in things beyond their own tiny, limited circle of experience.

    (My parents taught me about nutrition, and their lessons about debt management mostly consisted of, “If it’s not absolutely essential to your survival, and you can’t afford to pay cash for it at the moment, don’t buy it.” Seems to have worked pretty well for me. It’s kind of sad to think that either the government thinks parents are incapable of teaching kids that they need to eat fruits and veggies and not ring up thousands of dollars on their charge plates, or that the parents are actually not capable of teaching that – or not interested.)