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Recently, England Calling published a post on the danger for England’s future if her countrymen are ignorant of her history.

I have often said here that teaching one’s children history in depth — and without revisionism — is one of the most important things that a parent can do.

Below are a few brief and eloquent excerpts from Robert Henderson’s post from August 25, 2011, ‘The English must not take their future for granted’.  Emphases mine.

He introduces it with facts of which many young people here are ignorant:

England has a truly remarkable history. It was here that Parliamentary government evolved; here that the Industrial Revolution began, here that the only world empire ever worthy of the name was acquired and ruled.  In the arts and sciences  the English can point to the likes of Shakespeare, Newton and Darwin; in martial matters Cromwell, Marlborough, Wellington and Nelson; in goverment the Pitts, Disraeli, Glasdstone and Churchill.  The country has remained unconquered for the better part of a thousand years  and her domestic history is one of remarkable peacefulness when put in the context of  the wider world

As most of us know, and something we have in common with other Western nations, is that over the past few decades — so, more than a generation — leftist thought has brought about revisionism in schools, state and private.  What middle-aged people learned in the classroom is not what today’s 20-somethings learned. Unfortunately, this revisionism in textbooks accompanied by constant hand-wringing from Guardian-reading teachers not only gives English children cause to doubt their country but our many new arrivals from countries around the world also learn that their adopted land was nearly always in the wrong.

A nation may be likened to a man. If a man continually accepts insult or engages in  repeated self-denigration, we think him a poor fellow. At first such behaviour is embarrassing. Soon it becomes  irritating. Eventually it breeds a profound contempt and contempt is mother to all enormities. So it is with peoples.  On the simple ground of self-preservation, the English cannot afford to continue to permit the present gratuitous and  incontinent abuse offered by both foreigners and her own ruling elite nor tolerate the suppression of the English  voice …

The Left intelligentsia…have so long worshipped foreign gods that they seem to have become almost incapable of seeing any good in the characteristic English institutions and traditions. That the moral values on which most of them pride themselves are largely the products of the institutions they are out to destroy, these socialists cannot, of course, admit. Sadly, this attitude is unfortunately not confined to avowed socialists …

What the left internationalists did not have fifty odd years ago was control of education or a supremacy in politics and the media. They now possess this utterly. The concentration on trivia is of more recent birth and had its roots in the late fifties and early sixties. Prior to then, complaints about an over concentration on “Kings and Queens” history existed, but no one in the academic world seriously suggested that such history was unimportant. That has now gone. Even pupils who have taken A-Level history know next to nothing. Facts and chronology have been replaced by “historical empathy” and investigative skills. Where once pupils would have learnt of Henry V, Wellington and the Great Reform Bill, they are now asked to imagine that they are a peasant in 14th Century England or an African slave on a slaver. The results of such “empathy” are not judged in relation to the historical record, but as exercises in their  own right. Whatever this is, it is not historical understanding. Because history teaching has been removed from historical facts, the assessment of the work of those taught becomes nothing more than the opinion of the teacher. This  inevitably results in the prejudices of the teacher being reflected in their presentation and marking. In the present  climate of opinion within British education this means liberal political correctness wins the day. Thus history  teaching, and the teaching of other subjects such as geography which can be given a PC colouring, has become no  better than propaganda. This would be unfortunate if the propaganda promoted English history and culture uncritically. But to have anti-English propaganda in English schools and universities is positively suicidal. That it is state policy is barely credible.

There is no other logical outcome other than that many a young child learns to hate England and all she represents.  So-called conservative journalists like Charles Moore make the situation worse: perhaps it’s fine and dandy if England disappears in 50 years’ time.  Perhaps his children have told him they were born in a useless country, one with an expiry date on it.  How very sad.  So, an adult immigrant reads such an article and thinks, ‘Hmm, the English can’t even defend their own people and heritage.  They seem to consider themselves worthless.  So do I.’

If England is to survive as more than a geographical entity, it is essential that the young be imprinted with a knowledge  of the immense achievements of Britain in general and England in particular. This need not mean the creation of a  vulgar, contrived chauvinism for there is so much of  undeniable value in Britain’s past that a fictionalised and bombastic history is unnecessary. For example, why not base GCSE history teaching on a core of the development of the English language, the history of science and technology (with special emphasis on the industrial revolution), the  development of the British constitution and the growth and administration of Empire? Multiculturalism should be  abolished in the schools as a matter of policy.

No nation can maintain itself if it does not have a profound sense of its worth. In a healthy society this sense of worth  simply exists and children imbibe it unconsciously. Our society has been so corrupted by the liberal’s hatred of his own culture that a conscious programme of cultural imprinting is necessary. If it is not done, how long will it be before English children express surprise when told they are speaking English and not American? The corrosion of English society can only be halted if pride of England and her achievements is instilled in the young.

The words of the younger Pitt in 1783 (following the disaster of the American War of Independence) seem peculiarly apt for our time:

We must recollect … what is we have at stake, what it is we have to contend for. It is for our  property, it is for our liberty, it is for our independence, nay, for our existence as a nation; it is for our character, it is for our very name as Englishmen, it is for everything dear and valuable to man on this side of the grave.

Mr Henderson recommends that we work for an English Parliament, a solution with which I agree.

Until then, instead of spending countless hours on vain pursuits (e.g. shopping, television, video games), let us devote time to discussing English history and legends in a constructive and honest way.  A good book for primary school children is the beautifully illustrated Our Island Story, which even adults will appreciate.  Each chapter profiles a different iconic Englishman or Englishwoman throughout our great history up through Victorian times. The book first appeared in 1905, so, fairly soon after Queen Victoria’s death.  (Disclaimer: I have no commercial interest here; it’s simply a good book filled with historical episodes, concisely and engagingly written.)

I would bet they learn very little of the content in school, which makes it such an outstanding book for the home.  Also, as the stories are in chronological order, children will have the advantage of grasping a timeline of events instead of the jumbled-up mess that many secondary school students have today.

(Photo credit: rays.floristblog.co.uk)

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