The lessons of history? That’s a lot of bunk

7 08 2007

David Aaronovitch in The Times

It is good to know that, by the time summer’s rains give way to autumn’s hurricanes, what Xenophilius Lovegood had to say to a scar-faced boy wizard concerning the Resurrection Stone and the Elder Wand will be informing the actions of our Liberal Democrat MPs. It feels more reassuring, however, that Tory MPs were planning – less demotically but more virtuously – to plough through William Hague’s biography of William Wilberforce. Don’t you agree that it is so important that our rulers should have a proper sense of history?

Now substitute the word “physics” for “history” in all those sentences that seem to appear four or five times a week, uttered by this academic or that think-tank, and lamented over by columnists and leader writers. Is it vital that every child should have a grounding in physics? Is it necessary that every senior politician should have a keen understanding of physics? Is the operation of the physical world an essential part of comprehending the world we live in? Is it heck as like.

Is the physics curriculum too narrow? Is it repetitive? Is it well taught? Do pupils give up physics too early? Who knows? But everyone with more than two GCSEs and a humanities degree to rub together has an opinion on the teaching of, and learning from, history.

More here




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