The Curmudgeon


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Pride in Our Island's Story

The shadow Secretary for Schools has apparently deplored the fact that history is not being taught in such a way as to make juvenile human resources sufficiently proud of sharing a national heritage with the likes of Michael Gove. The Independent has asked a few people some questions about this; among them a historian from Michael Gove's party who apparently thinks universal suffrage and manhood suffrage amount to the same thing. They didn't ask me, so here are my answers.

How do we teach children pride in our island's story?
Why on earth should we? Surely history should be taught because it is useful or interesting, not as a means of indoctrinating our already ignorant, miserable, boorish and violent brats with the vices of patriotism and xenophobia.

Does that mean learning kings and queens and dates by rote?
Kings and queens exerted a certain influence on our history for quite some time, and it is generally just as well to be aware of the order in which events happened.

What are 10 of the important dates children should know?

1215 Signing of Magna Carta, later to be repealed by Tony Blair.

1555 Foundation of the English slave trade by John Hawkins and associates, later to be apologised for by Tony Blair.

1600 Foundation of the Honourable East India Company, with the intention of bringing free trade and civilisation to the benighted.

1746 Battle of Culloden. The Duke of Cumberland's army of brave boys doing a wonderful job under difficult circumstances gives the rebellious Highlanders a lesson in British unity.

1815 Battle of Waterloo. End of Napoleon's attempts to impose unaccountable European standards on British democracy, as led by George III of Hanover and his popularly elected Regent.

1847 Height of the Great Famine in Ireland. Market efficiency of the English absentee landlord system shown to great advantage in the exceptionally low casualty rate among English absentee landlords.

1879 Battle of Ulundi. Civilised values brought to the fuzzy-wuzzies good and proper.

1918 England wins First World War, with help from its oldest and greatest ally.

1945 England wins Second World War, with help from its oldest and greatest ally, and turns immediately to saving the world from Communism.

1968 As Chagos Islanders are forcibly expelled from their homeland, English tolerance and fair play seen at their best in Enoch Powell's "Rivers of Blood" speech.


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