MR PENDLE: Scandal that history teaching is neglected

when Mr Pendle was at school, one of the subjects he enjoyed most was history.

Sunday, 1st January 2012, 11:01 am

He enjoyed finding out about Britain’s past - about its kings and queens, its military campaigns, its great explorers, disasters such as the Great Fire of London and the bubonic plague, why the map of the world had so much pink on it and so on.

But it seems times have changed - and not for the better.

According to a recent survey, half of the 18 to 24-year-olds in the country do not know Lord Nelson led the British to victory at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and, even more remarkably, a similar number did not know the Romans built Hadrian’s Wall.

Who on earth do they think built it? MacAlpines?

And if they do not know about great British sea battles of the past such as Trafalgar and the Roman occupation of this country, what are they being taught in history classes these days?

Or are the pathetic answers given in TV quiz shows to history questions a true indication of how much things have been dumbed down over the last 40 years, where pupils are taught that the rich historical past of this country does not matter any more?

It is a scandal that the teaching of history is being neglected in schools - last year, there were 159 comprehensives where not a single pupil was entered for GCSE in the subject, while the numbers taking options such as media studies continues to increase year on year.

But Mr Pendle feels the Government is pushing things too far in insisting history should be a compulsory GCSE subject and that students should not be able to drop it at 14.

After all, that option was open to Mr Pendle at Colne Grammar School more than 40 years ago - so the options offered to students not to carry on with the subject is nothing new.

But there is obviously something in the present day history syllabus that is turning our teenagers off the subject.

By not being told about the events of the past and how we came to be where we are today, the teenagers of 2011 are missing out on so much - and it is there where changes need to be made, not by forcing disinterested students to two further years of classroom drudgery.