2 years ago
In my previous blog entry ‘a simple test’, you may recall I was beating myself up because I didn’t know that The Duke Of Wellington was a British Prime Minister as well as a military leader (and of course, a few pubs across the British Isles!).
But now I don’t feel quite so bad about it all.
This is because I’ve just come across the result of a survey which makes me feel a bit of a genius and quite well informed.
Apparently, one in five British teenagers these days, thinks that Winston Churchill was a fictional character. And almost half think that Richard the Lionheart was a mythical figure, and 25% don’t believe that Florence Nightingale ever really existed.
But what about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table then? Well they were all too real according to 51% of teenagers, as indeed was Sherlock Holmes. Almost 6 out of 10 think that the pipe smoking sleuth really did solve crimes from a house in Baker Street. (Good for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle I suppose, but not so telling for our history text books).
Now if my history education was poor, (and I know for a fact it was... I was there after all) I can only guess at exactly how bad it is looking now. There must be little or no coverage of history at all, and so our kids are left to construct their own picture of history from the trusty sources of TV drama and Hollywood films.
And given the entertainment industry’s propensity to blur between fact and fiction (even recent political figures like Tony Blair and John Prescott have been subjects of docu-dramas which blend a few facts with a lot of fiction) it’s a little wonder that our young people’s knowledge of the past is so utterly confused.
But does it matter at all?
Well I’m not sure, really. Knowing who signed the Magna Carta or even who was Prime Minister at the time of the Falklands war, isn’t going to have any practical applications that I can think of.
But I know for a fact that if you ever came to me for a job, and I found out you thought Margaret Thatcher was the hideous result of someone’s imagination, (come to think about it…) well, am I going to look favourably on you? Or am I going to label you as ‘thick’, and laugh you out of the office?
As I’ve often implied before in many of these my precious blogs, we tend to buy from people who are like us (and at the end of the day, employing someone is a purchase of sorts). So to me, anyone who thinks Winston Churchill didn’t exist, isn’t going to be like me at all… he’s more likely to be from a different planet.
And I dare say that most people who’ve reached a position of being able to employ someone would feel more or less the same way on the matter.
So, if you’ve got any teenage kids hanging around the television games console in your living room, it could be quite an interesting exercise to give them a little test on their knowledge of general history.
It could be a good laugh for you, and you may be as shocked and surprised by some of their answers as I was.
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