WW2 History in schools?

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

  1. Alan Allport

    Alan Allport Senior Member

    It may be worth pointing out at this stage that anyone who wants to know (as opposed to just guessing or presuming) what children in the UK secondary school system are being taught need only look up the freely available national curriculum programme.

    "European and World History: The changing nature of conflict and cooperation between countries and peoples and its lasting impact on national, ethnic, racial, cultural or religious issues, including the nature and impact of the two world wars and the Holocaust."

    Best, Alan
     
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    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!

    paul

    Didn't you ever bring the subject up at home ?
     
  3. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    In Canada, the school system pays little attention to either world war. It shocks me that so little time is spent learning about what was arguably the single biggest event in the history of mankind.

    During my last visit to Holland, in Nijmeggen, I was asked by the innkeeper if I was an American. No, Canadian, was my reply. Purpose of your visit? My Dad was here 60 years ago. With that came a discussion on how the Dutch never forget what happened to their country at the hands of the Nazis during ww2. From an early age to the end of highschool the curriculum covers ww2 in detail. In Canada, a paltry two weeks is spent covering ww2 in grade ten.

    Pity, eh?
     
  4. pauldawn

    pauldawn Senior Member

    Didn't you ever bring the subject up at home ?

    yes, many times.

    reading replies here it seems they do teach the ww's to some degree in uk schools, clearly not enough though or in such a manner that doesnt engage some kids - mine in particular. may be its just a simple lack of interest, may be the kids dont feel its relevant to them in their world of x-factor and celebrity.
     
  5. sparky34

    sparky34 Senior Member

    over the years i have visited YPRES and TYNE COT 4 OR 5 times ..and always
    there have been british children there ..I once remember a schoolteacher in tears
    as he explained to the children at TYNE COT no doubt the futility of war ..
     
  6. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    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

    paul

    Paul,

    Teach them yourself. It your ultimate responsibility anyway to see that they learn what they need to know. You can be danged sure that my daughters have a more than passing understanding of history and the WWII's place in it. It doesn't hurt any that my eldest was born on June 6.


    We discuss many subjects at the dinner table, in the car (after I pry out the ear buds) and in other free time. One of my girls thanked me a while back because I was insistent that she know a fact from history, when it showed up unexpectedly on test.

    On an aside, she is one the few in her 9th grade class that can talk about old Rock and Roll. I quiz her on the subject as we listen to oldies when I am driving. Since we live out in the country, there is a lot of time for that where ever we go. It started when she hung the lips and tongue poster by the Rolling Stones on her wall, but didn't have a cluie what songs were theirs. She does now, along with many, many other groups.:D
     
  7. Nevil

    Nevil WW2 Veteran/Royal Signals WW2 Veteran

    In Canada, the school system pays little attention to either world war. It shocks me that so little time is spent learning about what was arguably the single biggest event in the history of mankind.

    During my last visit to Holland, in Nijmeggen, I was asked by the innkeeper if I was an American. No, Canadian, was my reply. Purpose of your visit? My Dad was here 60 years ago. With that came a discussion on how the Dutch never forget what happened to their country at the hands of the Nazis during ww2. From an early age to the end of highschool the curriculum covers ww2 in detail. In Canada, a paltry two weeks is spent covering ww2 in grade ten.

    Pity, eh?

    I suspect you are right about the time spent on WW2 history here in Ontario. However, in my home town here, I have noted that several grades from the High School attend the Remembrance ceremonies at the War Memorial on November 11. I understand this is voluntary so it does show interest.

    I have been asked by grandchildren on several occasions to help with school projects on the subject. Members of the Royal Canadian Legion are also quite active in talking to school groups prior to November 11. So it may be that it varies by school districts or even individual teachers. It will be more dificult in big cities such as Toronto where a large proportion of students are fairly recent immigrants, and mostly from areas of the world that have different traditions. It takes time for them to join with residents and immigrants of longer standing.

    Nevil.
     
  8. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    And as an afterthought you cannot get much better in the teaching of history to younger children than the programme 'Horrid Histories' on the CBBC channel. I have a son of 7 and a daughter of 5 and it is far and away their favourite programme..

    My lads love that too, they told me what a 'gong farmer' was .
    I was impressed , I'd never heard of one before.
     
  9. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Owen

    My lads love that too, they told me what a 'gong farmer' was .
    I was impressed , I'd never heard of one before.

    Well go on then, enlighten us as well :)

    Ron
     
  10. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    may be its just a simple lack of interest, may be the kids dont feel its relevant to them in their world of x-fXXtor and celebrity.
    You seem pretty determined to believe this mate, in spite of widespread evidence to the contrary. I'm pretty sanguine interest and coverage is actually on the up.

    I'll try not to repeat myself too much, as I've rambled on this on assorted other threads, but my kids have done WW2 as a main topic (classroom full of Panzer tracklinks and assorted other WW2 ephemera), cover 'remembrance' seriously from aged about six (ever tried to help 30 six-year-olds try and do rubbings of an upright war memorial in the wind?.. I have, not recommended ;) ), have been on school trips dressed as evacuees to learn about the war, etc. etc. None of the above from an especially keen school, all done under the auspices of the National Curriculum.

    Remembrance services attendance is noticably up, the Poppy appeal earns new records every year, WW2 is widely covered on the media, from dramas to documentary.

    I see no sign of a real sparsity of interest, except from those that just don't want to be interested - and it's a free country, nobody's obliged to follow history.

    My Ten-year-old was droning on to me about that WW1 Flamethrower emplacement the other day - quite dull, but sort of lovely too. X-Fxxtor makes him do a 'vomity' face...
    Good lad.
     
  11. Susan Smethurst

    Susan Smethurst Senior but too talkative

    WW2 is in the curriculum at different stages but a lot depends on what a school makes of that challenge. Thanks to an inspriring young male teacher with a history interest my elder 2 both had a great year 6 (10-11) experience of learning about the war. One went to a school in Croydon where the air raid shelters are totally preserved. Both went to Normandy to see D day landing sites (luck of living near South Coast!). Both were encouraged to bring in photos of a relative involved in the war and to so a project about their family's war experience. This resulted in the school learning about my father in 1 RTR and about my Uncles MC (the citation for which went on the wall).
    At the end of the school year in the "Leavers Show" written by the Children the photos were shown on a screen and each child went up on stage and spoke briefly about their war time relative. Very moving.
    On a light note my eldest girl became a bit flustered in reading out her description of her grandads exploits and ended up "then he was shot in the head and became a vicar".....

    So there is good teaching out there (this was a Church state school I would mention) but helps if the teacher is interested!
     
  12. La-de-da-Gunner Graham

    La-de-da-Gunner Graham Senior Member

    When I switched the telly on this morning, it was reporting from the House of Lords who were actually debating this very subject. I only caught the tail end of it but the Lord who was speaking said that the National Curriculum dictates which topics of history are taught but it is up to the teacher's discretion what to actually teach within them.

    Keith
     
  13. Alan Allport

    Alan Allport Senior Member

    It's important to remember that any curriculum involves trade-offs in time. Every lesson spent on the Second World War means a lesson not spent on something else. And the preoccupation of this forum (which I share) notwithstanding, the Second World War is hardly the only historical event that schoolchildren ought to know about. Indeed, many historians in higher education complain that students come to university knowing only about "Hitler and the Henrys." See for example this complaint by Niall Ferguson, who is not exactly known for being a PC-crazed lefty.

    Blaming teachers is easy - and lazy. If you think your children aren't learning enough about the war - or anything else - do something about it yourself.

    Best, Alan
     
    Slipdigit likes this.
  14. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    My lads love that too

    Just an example of how my Children are learning their history..

    [YOUTUBE]UX6pUDBA2Jw[/YOUTUBE]
     
  15. sparky34

    sparky34 Senior Member

    just too digress... what are they taught today ..I was in the post office today , and a young lady aged about 18/20 was posting some parcels ..she asked the assistant
    was NEW ZEALAND a part of AUSTRALIA or a country ..... the mind boggles ..
     
  16. mimike

    mimike Junior Member

    Well said! All points of view are valuable, input from all who lived in those times give us, today, a broader understanding of the War.

    That our education system is flawed is not news, my mother was a teen during WWII and is an educated woman, yet I am amazed at how narrow her view of the era is. She only knows what she heard or was told and has never cared to investigate further. This is true, I believe, of most of the Vets of the War, what they know was limited to what they personally experienced, read in newspapers (all, even the allied, censored), or heard (and what they heard were mostly rumors).

    In the US content of our textbooks is not decided by educators, rather by “committees”. Each member of the committee has his or her agenda - creation vs. evolution, ethnic groups wanting emphasis on their particular piece of history, politics (always politics), etc. - and these agendas, all too often, trump and diminish historical fact.

    There is a lot of history, it is impossible to include all of it in any education. Some history must suffer and everyone has arguments why their “pet” part should by included and others excluded.

    When they were growing up I bored my sons constantly with “lectures”. They hated it then but both of them have thanked me in later years. They know things their peers don’t.

    “Remembrance of things past are not necessarily remembrance of what was.” Marcel Prose
     
  17. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    The education system is a series of Modules.The lectures I gave fitted in to the modern history module...Or so I have been told!

    That brings me on nicely to Schools. I have been to a great many........ One of the best was up a country lane in Bridport Dorset, where the school was in a temporary building, and an ancient church building. Despite the obvious drawbacks, I was very impressed with the standard and the involvement of the pupils. Wonderful.....

    So many of the schools were a direct reflection of the head, and how he or she ran it. BY the way I broke up the lecture with question periods at intervals..
    The girls most common question was.." Where did you go to the toilet"

    The Boys? Well you might guess "did you shoot anyone"?:)
     
  18. Susan Smethurst

    Susan Smethurst Senior but too talkative

    OK. Small rant... I have 2 school age children 14 and 12 (and one 4 year old cheeky monkey). They are far better taught and much more aware of ww2 history than I was at their age through school. I am a veterans daughter so living with a man who was paralysed through war taught me a lot but school wise the 70s didnt go there compared to what my daughters are taught.
     
  19. pauldawn

    pauldawn Senior Member

    ive read all the replies here with hugw interest. my opinion and feelings on this subject are are purely based on the experience i have. with 5 kids who are either still at school or left school i am rigid in my opinion that this subject really wasnt tauoght to a satisfactory standard in their school! I accept that the subject is part of the NC but i believe it is also true that schools are allowed to "cherry pick" what modules they work on and in what depth. im sure everyone here will agree that this subject is massively important. surely it should be an in depth compulsary part of our kids education. I wish my kids had the chance to do a school trip to the war cemetaries or battlefields instead, just this last week, my son had the day at Thorpe Park! What an educational trip that clearly was!!!!
     
  20. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    No I don't agree with your assertion about in-depth because I don't know how you define that. Apart from the scope of Holocaust topic, which in my eldest's case doesn't seem to have covered non-Jewish victims at all, I am quite satisfied with the way the local schools here are covering the WWs. My eldest's school has its own website full of the research that the children have carried out on the names listed on both the school memorial and the one in the town.

    I don't recall ever having been taught about the wars in school - aside from war poets in Eng Lit. - and yet here I am none the worse for having dropped History before O Level... and given the way the subject was taught in my day, it was probably a good idea i wasn't turned off it altogether.

    My kids love history, but it's not compartmentalised in this house. It's just as much about weapons, countries, technology, dictators, agriculture, religion, diet, disease, fashion, art and science as the timeline of events. They don't need to know the names of leaders either in order to understand the cost of war ... they know already about each member of their family who lived though the wars, who served, and who was killed.

    I wouldn't start with letters to MPs if not satisfied, I'd be going down to the school(s) concerned and giving them some feedback. Indeed our local schools encourage this partnership and my kids bring in what they've worked on at home whenever a particular topic has fired their imagination.

    At Primary school level here, apart from one WW1 dedicated museum in the area, there is little opportunity for related field trips that might be available to some areas of England. However, there are plenty of CWGC headstones in the local cemeteries as well as war memorials to take them to see of a weekend.
     

Share This Page