A Student of History

April 2, 2007

Dumbing down standards, UK style

Filed under: The Academy,The world today — John Maass @ 7:36 am

The British education system seem to be caving in to political correctness, while simultaneously dumbing-down the history curriculum there.  Why else would we read in recent headlines that teachers/schools are dropping subjects like the Crusades and the Holocaust “because they do not want to offend children from certain races or religions.”  Additionally the report here says that the teachers lack factual knowledge to teach this area of history.

A few thoughts….

First, if there’s any region in the world that ought to make sure that they teach about what happens when certain groups get persecuted by others and thereby massacred, its Europe.  The Jews and Armenians were almost wiped out in “civilized” Europe, not some far off corner off the world, so British children would best be taught and reminded of this sober fact.  Is the British treatment of the Irish since the 11th century really all that different than other cases in which religious intolerance led to violence? No.

Second, that the teachers or administrators “do not want to offend children from certain races or religions” is absurd.  This notion (which comes up in so many contexts these days) that people–including children–should go through life without being offended or challenged is striking.  Obviously, I am not saying that kids in school ought to be offended on purpose to teach them a lesson, but they sure as hell ought to know from a very early age that there are plenty of folks out there who will (as their lives go on) offend them, oppose them, or otherwise ruin their “self-esteem.”  Sheltering kids from at least some of this is ultimately harmful.  This plan in Britain would be like the US schools saying that we won’t teach our kids subjects including the Trail of Tears, slavery, Jim Crow, or labor strikes because Indians, African-Americans, and the lower classes might be hurt or offended by what happened to their ancestors.  There would not be much to teach if we adopted this standard.

Finally, if “teachers lack factual knowledge,” then why not (here comes a bold and highly unorthodox suggestion) train the teachers!  If the history teachers don’t know history, then what indeed are they teaching?!?!  And what did they study?  I suspect this is symptomatic of educators being required (like in the U.S.) to have far more training and preparation in the soft, murky field of “education” than in the subjects they teach.


  1. I concur with your article 150%. The same thing(s) can be said about the American Educational System, in that it doesn’t want to talk about a specific time in American History–Jim Crowe. Granted,it was a ver dispicable time in our history, yet, we shouldn’t forego the recounting as well as avoid the proverbial attempt of “sweeping it under the rug,” all for the sake of not offending anyone. History is History, and there’s nothing anything or anyone can do in changing the past except for moving on, and trying to make the future a better place to live. I said all that because I totally concur with as well as like your way of thinking.:):)

    Mr. Williams

    Comment by Mr. Williams — April 9, 2007 @ 1:22 am | Reply

  2. […] update on UK schools Filed under: The Academy — John Maass @ 11:51 am In a previous post, I mentioned that the U.K. schools were getting rid of the Holocaust as a matter for instruction to […]

    Pingback by An update on UK schools « A Student of History — April 18, 2007 @ 11:51 am | Reply

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