WW2 History in schools?

Discussion in 'Historiography' started by 17thDYRCH, Sep 15, 2010.

  1. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    It must be that the elective deals with WW2 in far more detail. The PDF file I found was from a local high school. Maybe it is time I wrote to the minister in Daddy McGuinty's govt!
    Martin 14, I would have to say the your assumption is accurate. I visited the Cemetery in Hong Kong this past January. The lads are a long way from home.
    Thanks for the imput from Derek and Opanapointer.
    I am sure more will follow on this.


    In my daughter's case, the school is under the York Region Board. She spent weeks on the two world wars and had a major essay to complete. She chose Dieppe as her subject matter (after consultation with Dad!!). A WW2 veteran spent an entire 50 minute class speaking to the kids and a Holocaust survivor also addressed them. In addition, the school arranged for a 10 day European trip centred on Canadian battlefields and concentration camps.
    It was certainly far more ww2 content than I saw in high school.

  2. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    good to hear that York board is doing the right thing.
    Just peeves me to no end that a country of just 11 million souls in 1939, had a million of its citizens in uniform, fighting on two fronts, has a school system that devotes 4 hours to its military during WW2.

  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I found a piece of Hitlers House (Berghof) in my car when I got back home last night for the next door neighbours son incase he has a history 'show and tell' at school. :D
  4. L J

    L J Senior Member

    Following the information I have,there is a venomous dispute between the professors Evans and Schama about history lessons about British identity.
    At the request of the secretary of state for education ,M.Goove,prof. Schama is heading a commission to reform history lessons at British schools,with as aim a better notion of British identity and history,to help the integration of the children of immigrants :thus,lessons about Henry VIII and both WW's.
    In the "The Wonderfulness of us" (published in the London Review of Books),R.Evans is attacking this idea.He is pleading for a multicultural education :ex:to give children of Caribbean origine lessons about the history of their country .
    2 questions
    1) Is my summary reliable?
    2)What's the opinion of the readers? Who is right?
  5. Auditman

    Auditman Senior Member

    I don't know the ideologies of the candidates in detail but I believe Mr Schama is a bit right wing and more than a bit "I know best".

    However I have no problem about students at British Schools learning British history, as long as it is a "warts and all" approach. We have not always been the good guy (Slavery, concentration camps in the Boer War for examples) and I firmly believe that we have often been the good guy (aboliton of slavery, democracy that works without bloodshed etc). I don't believe that the Empire was a bad thing overall and the country is still a haven for those being persecuted across the world. Enhance the good bits learn from the bad bits, thats the importance of history.

    By all means include histories of other cultures as part of education, after all most cultures have touched ours at some point in history but Britsh history should be paramount in British schools.

  6. Alan Allport

    Alan Allport Senior Member

    1) Is my summary reliable?

    Not really, to be honest.

    Yes, Evans' article is partly about the role of national 'storytelling' and the extent to which history in Britain should only be 'British history', but to reduce it to that - and to another tired, left-right dispute about multiculturalism - is to oversimplify his argument.

    What he's questioning in the LRB is method as much as content: should the aim of history education be to provide a chronological 'sweep', which provides context but is necessarily shallow when it comes to detail? Or does it make more sense to focus on specific, key moments in history, sacrificing breadth for depth of analysis?

    To quote Evans himself:

    "More calamitous [than confining all teaching to 'Our Island Story'] is the prospect of history teaching in the schools confining itself to the transmission and regurgitation of ‘facts’. According to the critics, facts have all but disappeared from the classroom, and the inclusion in the curriculum of exercises in source-criticism are useless. Yet source-criticism teaches students not to accept passively every fact and argument they are presented with. When I started teaching history at university in the 1970s, many first-year students were incapable of critical reading of this kind. (I ran into trouble with one class when I began to point out the problems in the arguments put forward by one of the books I had set them to read. ‘Why did you make us read it,’ one of them complained, ‘if you don’t agree with it?’) Better history teaching in schools changed all that, but now Gove wants to abandon these skills all over again. Better History declares that ‘it is by the acquisition and use of historical knowledge that historians are primarily judged’ – but in reality that only makes a Mastermind contestant.

    It is possible to teach actual skills only if history is taught in depth, and that means a focus on a limited number of specialised topics. Of course, students need to know at least in outline the longer-term context of what they study. But if you make this context the core element in the curriculum, you are sacrificing depth for breadth, and you will end up with a superficial gallop through the centuries. At Oxford, when I was an undergraduate, we all nominally studied English history from the Anglo-Saxons to the 20th century, from Alfred the Great to Winston Churchill, or to put it in somewhat less heroic terms, Ethelred the Unready to Neville Chamberlain (we didn’t bother in those days with the Welsh or the Scots). But in practice, if we were going to learn how to do any thinking of our own, we had time only to study discrete and often unrelated topics: the rise of the gentry and their role in the outbreak of the English Civil War (not the course of events in the 1640s), the role of party in the time of Queen Anne (not the chronology of her reign), the reasons for the failure of the 1848 Revolutions (not the actual course of the revolutions)."

    "The real problem", suggests Evans, "is not with the curriculum’s content, but with the schools’ failure to deliver it, as history is taught all too frequently as part of ‘humanities’ or ‘general studies’ by teachers with no training in the subject, and key parts of it get neglected in the drive to boost literacy and numeracy rates by schools keen to climb up the league tables."

    Politics doesn't really come into this - Schama is very much a lefty too (it's Evans who's the one in favor of spending lots of time on Henry VIII and Hitler). The question isn't just about content; it's about how children who aren't going to specialize in history as a discipline should most efficiently be exposed to it in the limited time available in schools - a far more interesting and pertinent question IMHO anyway.

    Best, Alan
  7. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I had always held that Schama was a good historian with his main works on Britain and all thing British - but Evans has an excellent way of telling it like it is - bearing in mind that any immigrant should be immersed in the history - mores and culture of the Country that he has adopted- voluntarily I might add - as this is a great part of the problem with hyphenated nationals who refuse to integrate - we have the same problem here in Canada...
  8. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    Education, regardless of subject should be about learning. Learning the facts, the opinions, how to discuss them and how to question the different view points. With History in my opinion, with Great Britain and the Empire, it should be based in Britain and look at the impact on the world and vice versa. No country is an island, in history, or in fact in any subject.

    The one thing I really disagree with in the earlier stages of education is specialisation, I think the subjects should not be split in the earlier part of schooling, that every subject impacts on every other and should as much as possible be taught together. And bloody computers and calculators are dumbing down kids. A child at the age of 12 does not need to know how to do Flash animation when they can't read, write or do simple maths problems.

    Kids should also be taught about responsibilities and not just their rights, it's my generation that started all this crap, and now we are regretting it. And rights and repsonsibilities can be taught within nearly every subject, especially history.
  9. Havoc

    Havoc Junior Member

    I was in the 2nd year after GCSE's replaced O levels etc - and looking back (fading Grey matter not withstanding) my history lessons for the 2 years of GCSE education covered -

    The Wild West
    The Cuban Missile Crisis
    Properganda in WW2
    Bloody Sunday
    "The Blitz"
    The Wild West

    In each 'module' we had questions asked which we had to answer using primary or tertiary sources to back up our conclusions. The aim of all that was to basically teach us how to reserch a subject.

    Its intention was not to teach us about 1066 and all that. And In my opinion it worked very well.

    However I see nothing wrong about pre -1066 through to......Henry VIII through to......the Kyoto accord (?) being taught pre-GCSE (Age 5 to 14)

    Also I have to confess that it does my nut in everytime someone has a pop about how the Evil Empire did X W and Z in isolation to the rest of the world at the time.

    Or As George McDonald Fraser would put it "A Selective distortion of History"
  10. Groundhugger

    Groundhugger Senior Member

    History Lessons were The Kings and Queens of England and the odd Jock chucked in for good luck [spiders and burnt cakes come to mind] and gratefully giving me 'Royal' amnesia for life , and the odd sprinkling of bashing the French about thats it ! that was in the fifties the fact that we had won two world wars and fighting one in Korea , et al . at the time wasnt mentioned upon , we had to go to the Cinema to find out what History was about , and the less said about that the better .

  11. At Home Dad (Returning)

    At Home Dad (Returning) Well-Known Member

    "pleading for a multicultural education: to give children of Caribbean origin lessons about the history of their country"

    I'm all for the grandchildren of our 'original' immigrants (those who were invited here) to be taught something regarding their history, whether it be about the Raj, the creation of Paki stan or the history of the caribbean/african colonies etc.

    However, if the 'multiculty' history teaching is to spread to every classification of immigrant, where would the teaching stop? I think we have about 150 different countries represented in my borough, if not more

    I dont want my daughter being bothered about the gypsy 'culture' of Romania, or about the Irish 'travellers' who no longer travel or about the Ottoman Turks or Ethiopian Kings or general Sub Saharan African cultures (with the obvious exception of the Ancient world such as Egypt or Mesopotamia). Thanks, but no thanks.

    Personally, I think the best place for that kind of history teaching comes from the home. I take a great interest in teaching my daughter the history of Dominica (where my Mrs comes from) for example, but wouldn't expect her to be taught it at school and would also question the accuracy of every element of it if it was!

    Also, I doubt "a better notion of British identity and history to help the integration of the children of immigrants" will have any impact as there is no fundamental requirement for immigrants to integrate in UK.

    If they want to, they will. I doubt teaching a bit of Brit history will alter that.
  12. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    I believe some Spaniard said " Those who forget their history are condemned to relive it".

    I'm comfortable with my history, if we hadn't done it, the Spanish, Portugese, Dutch or French would have replaced us. Some things we got wrong others we got right, but I don't think we should wear the hair shirt! Nobody makes a big deal about the Romans, pretty good slavers and oppressors in their time, and that's what it's about - in THEIR time - not mine, I cann't be held responsible for decsions my Great Grandfather (more accurateley, his government) made.

    Get with it, get intergrated, get a future.
  13. Oggie2620

    Oggie2620 Senior Member

    I like the quote from the Spaniard. They did it between WW1 and 2 and now they are doing it again.... How long before the Typhoons are grounded because they dont have any spare parts (again!) because of the parsimony of the MOD....
  14. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    Havoc, what's all that wildwest stuff for? Cowboys and Indians? Or is it that the Americans acheived what we wouldn't want to do - wiping out or encarcerating a complete indiginous people!
  15. pauldawn

    pauldawn Senior Member

    As a parent of six, ranging in age from 3 to 28, I am aware and appalled at the knowledge any one of them have with regards ww2. Im not talking about detailed events of 39 - 45 but even the basics seem alien to them.

    My older kids are educated and successful in their adult lives. "A stars" and "degrees" - but they have no idea as to even the basics re ww2. My eldest son, aged 26, didnt even know the names of the British and German leaders during ww2!!!!!

    This to me is really scary stuff!

    My question to the ww2 Veterans is a simple one - Do you believe the kids of today are taught enough about the events you endured? Or may be you think 39 - 45 should now be allowed to pass into history.

    Id be intersted to hear your thoughts.

    with respect

  16. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  17. pauldawn

    pauldawn Senior Member

    Thanks for that CL1 - ive read those links with interest.

    i left school in 1980 and did my last 2 years at only CSE (grade 1 achieved lol) my exam course over my last 2 years was Treaty of verailles through to Vietnam. I learned loads. i got the basic foundation, the basic understanding as to not only ww2 but also ww1, korea, vietnam and even the foundations of both the league of nations and the UN. This was all taught at only CSE level! Gawd, they now get top grade "A Stars" in history for remembering their DOB and name!!

    It seems today that none of this is important! i realy dont get how a so-called modern democratic nation can forget so readily those individuals and the history of events that have allowed us to enjoy the democratic freedoms we enjoy today??!!!!

    Is it time to lobby the powers to provide a more realistic history syllabus before the true heroes of this nation have all passed.?! Or may be we should give more MBE's , CBE's etc to second rate so-called "celebraties"!?

    We dont actually need to give awards to these ww2 heroes, they dont want them! We do however need to make our kids and grand kids aware of what has happened in the past. we need to make them understand that the freedoms they now enjoy were afforded them by the sacrifices made by their parents and grand parents! Theyre the true heroes and idols this country still has!!

    In towns and villages around France, Belgium and Holland we have foreigners honouring our "Fallen"! But Heh! Whilst these French, Dutch and Belgian kids stand proud at a war memorial once or twice a year, we cant even teach the basics of these events in our schools today!!!!!!! Its utterly discraceful!!

    SURELY ITS TIME THE LIKES OF THE RBL ETC ETC LOBBIED PARLIAMENT TO ENSURE THAT THE EVENTS OF THE TWO WW'S ARE NOT FORGOTTEN. Otherwise, i guarantee my youngest daughters generation (aged 3) wont have a clue what any of this about!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  18. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Paul -
    it was ever thus - and it's not about to change as too many in the education field to-day think that war is not a happy subject and would sooner teach about happy- clappy events rather than what war is all about.....your children are NOT alone as a survey in the US - just this week - asked many students who Hitler was - and you would astounded at many of the answers- but many thought he was abad guy......

    The main reason that few of us vets participate in these type of forums is to ensure that the truth can be spread more widely to all who are interested in just learning what their relatives did for their freedom.

    I am more than pleased to see so many women join of late as this means that the knowledge gained will be shared with their families in due course as we have already seen in many examples - not so with their "gung ho" male types who trust that they will not be called to undergo the trials and tribulations that all vets suffered
    as I am sure that they would eject a building block from their exhaust pipes.

    The many discussions and indeed arguements are in the main instructional until someone denigrates a service or corps - then I tend to become hostile in defence of ALL vets -as I am certain that Sapper -Gerry - Ron - Doctor D - Footslogger and the few who are left would also do....
  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I wonder if WW1 vets were asked the same question in the 30's and 40's ?
  20. pauldawn

    pauldawn Senior Member

    Tom, i was hoping you would join this thread, your opinion, i and many others do very much respect!

    you mention the US. well - lets be honest, from many "surveys" ive seen over the years, theyre not actually the most educated nation on the planet. Unless the subject falls smack bang in their own back garden they generally havent got a clue what youre talking about. (I appologise if this offends any of our trans-atlantic cousins but its how most of us see it here)

    On the subject of women joining the forum, i couldnt agree more! My wife, only last christmas, couldnt be arsed with anything ww2! However, i was given the box set of "Band of brothers" for xmas by my eldest daughter. i eventually got my wife to sit down and watch it - Now you need to understand my wife to know where im going now - in that short time from xmas 2010 she is now an "expert" of "Easy company", and i mean an expert!!! She is one of those people that researches a subject in serious depth when it grabs her attention!!

    the point im making is this: i agree with Tom, blokes have a certain mentality - gun hoe etc etc but when a women grabs hold of something they tend to pass it onto their kids in a more rational, educated manner. The more women we can interest in ww2 the better!

    Now! If my wife, who was very "anti" anything war could be "grabbed" in such a way that she is now looking into doing a degree on the subject as a mature student ... why is it impossible to think that kids really do actually want to know, understand and respect the efforts of their forefathers in ww2 and ww1. Surely our educational system is doing them an injustice!?

    i question the motives of a govt that seems unwilling or negligent regards the teaching of the most important, most recent events that have gone to create the nation / society we now live in. Heh! May be our membership of Europe prevents us from teaching our kids what is really relevant to them and what is actually their heritage.

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