Whilst constructing the header image for this blog I was reminded of a story from the news last week which stated that 20% of British teenagers believe Winston Churchill was a fictional character.
Ordinarily I would lambast the state of the English education system for not covering such an important person in modern history. However I have just taken a look at the Curriculum Online and not only is WWII covered but Churchill even has a whole lesson dedicated to him at some point, and there is even a picture of him in the header of the website!
Thinking back to my school days, I am sure that we covered WWII in detail, indeed I think that it was one of the few British conflicts that we were taught. Of course anything relating to WWII featured Churchill quite heavily.
Why then did these numpties not know who he was let alone not know that he was real? Most likely because they were the 20% that rarely turned up for lessons.
There were other slips ups as well, such as 50% and 65% believing that Robin Hood and King Arthur respectively were real. Most people assume that it is because of books and television that the youth of Britain today is so misinformed, but I think that there is more to it than that.
Children in Britain today aren’t taught about heroes, excepting Churchill of course, or of great men from Britain’s past. The reason? Because the likes of Dr Livingstone, Sir Walter Raleigh, General Gordon, Gonville Bromhead and the Duke of Wellington are all to do with Empire, and that might upset the 5 or 6 per cent of people in the UK descended from the peoples of former colonies.
Without any real heroes to look up to they cling to the fictional stories that they heard as children, and without any contradiction during history at school, they believe them to be real. And why not? The likes of Robin Hood, King Arthur and Sherlock Holmes are universal, they don’t upset anyone’s sensibilities.
Therein lies the problem, they are fairy stories, they aren’t real. A shame as Britain has a multitude of real heroes, that achieved real things through hard work and determination, and shaped the Britain. Sadly these great men and women are being forsaken with each successive generation.