Tuesday 18 March 2008

MasterM, Knight.

I was reminded of this photograph
by a young man, Asher, who lives in Missouri
and loves historical re-enactments.

We spent several summers attending
the various displays and battles
organised by English Heritage.

I can highly recommend them
although the Viking phase was a bit hairy and smelly.

My children absorbed a sense of history and timeline
which is not communicated in the classroom.
All too often, the syllabus focusses on
the wars of the Twentieth Century
to the exclusion of everything else.
There is also an emphasis on
the experience of 'ordinary' people
which gives a distorted perspective.
If you are lucky they will understand
that the children wore gas masks in England
at the same time that Hitler was in Germany.
If the teacher is less talented that might not happen.

There is also a lot of history that is not covered at all.

It seems a shame not to understand about the Normans, Plantagenets, Tudors, Stuarts, Georgians and Victorians. Not to mention the Romans, Saxons and Vikings. And the excursions into Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Oh yes...and what about our Colonial adventures and a little bit about Europe. It may sound like a tall order but I think that it is at least as important as learning to decorate cereal packets or make plastic peanut trays in Design Technology.

Goodness, that was a rant.
Sorry folks - I had better go and take the medicine.


Anonymous said...

It's a bugbear of mine too, personally I believe it important to understand our history, it's what makes us who we are and one cannot avoid the mistakes of the past if you don't even know of them.
And why avoid The War of The Roses?
Complicated - twaddle as my Grandfather would have said - marvellous, intrigue, treachery, gore, perfect to infect little boys with a love of history for the rest of their lives.

dragonfly said...

One of my regrets is dropping history at school - the lure of chemistry was too great. Fortunately for me No2 loves history and so after all these years I am beginning to learn a bit more about it again. As a typical boy, he has a complete fascination with anything to do with war...

Mary said...

I had a Classics Master who was passionate about the ancients

and a Modern European History teacher who was equally passionate about her subject.

God I loved history!

tess said...

rant away Alice I quite agree, the highlight of our Easter plans so far is the trip we're planning to Hadrian's Wall to do battle with the celts...........

Ali said...

I completely agree with you on the 'internalizing the timeline' thing. I moved country and school a lot as a child and my timeline has a gulf between the Romans and Gladstone and Disraeli.

Luckily I have a husband with a passion for history who can fill in my blanks.

Anonymous said...

History is all too often recorded and told from the perspective of a white man. There was important stuff being done by the disenfrachised by is simply not recognised. I like to take the perspective of the regular homemakers and consider how life was for the family at that time.

Allison said...

Alice, I have been so busy that I haven't been by here--and oh what I have missed of late, the sugar cubes, the dog/cat comparisons, a little Rosetti and some Vikings. It was fun catching up!

Lynn said...

Alice -- Asher's eyes just about popped out of his head when he saw his name on your blog! Now that he's a celebrity he'll be impossible to live with.

Yes, we're all history buffs around here. With a grandmother who is a (retired) medieval history professor, Asher comes by it naturally, I suppose.

Thanks heaps for brightening a cold, grey day!

BreadBox said...

I think that it may be time for a post about "1066 and all that"!

I was turned of history at the age of about 14 --- and it wasn't until I hung out with some history undergraduates many years later that I discovered what an interesting, fascinating field it is.
And then I discovered historical mysteries and novels (Sharon Kay Penman's stuff, for example) and love that aspect of it too (I especially love reading novels set in times I've read serious works about).

To think that all those years ago Mr. Davis tried so hard to stamp out any interest whatsoever in history in me, and he only managed to make it stick for a few years....


Fairlie - www.feetonforeignlands.com said...

It's tricky to work out where we're going to, if we don't know how we got to where we are.

Curlew Country said...

Oh rant away Alice - I totally agree. I studied medieval hisory at RHUL having been inspired firstly by 80s TV show Robin of Sherwood then then wonderful novels of Sharon Kay Penman. I really should have been born in the 12thC! I even admit to having done a bit of re-enactment myself in the past (although the cooking, water-carrying and sitting by the fire kind, rather than the crashing swords thing!)
I think its the most forgotten period of English history although there is a fab looking documentary series coming up on BBC Four later this spring.
Up the Plantagenets I say!
Thanks for an inspiring post