Sunday, October 24, 2004


Given the Leftist domination of education in Britain, this report from last year is not surprising:

"History lessons for secondary pupils are now dominated by the study of Adolf Hitler and the Second World War, the Government's school inspectors have found. A report by Ofsted, the school inspection body, warned that the "Hitlerisation" of courses threatened to damage understanding of history, and could result in pupils leaving school ignorant of key events. Of all the history lessons monitored during the last school year, more lessons focussed on Hitler's Germany than on any other topic.

Although the study of Hitler was "properly treated" in secondary school lessons for the youngest pupils, the danger for older children was that they are forced to repeat the topic at latter stages of their education. The inspectors' warning echoes the concerns of eminent historians and the Prince of Wales who recently called for the "narrow and fragmented" school syllabus to be abandoned.

The Ofsted analysis, History in Secondary Schools, concluded that although Hitler's Germany dominated GCSE and A-level courses schools had many other options to choose from. While many schools choose wisely and constructed "rich courses", others opted for "more of the same" and constantly repeated the study of Hitler. "If course programmes are constructed with narrow objectives, with 'more of the same' being seen as a route to success, students' experience of history is likely to suffer as a consequence, as is the preparedness of those wanting to continue with the study of history at a higher level," the inspectors' report warned.....

Chris McGovern, director of the History Curriculum Association and a former curriculum adviser, yesterday agreed that too much emphasis was given to Hitler and argued that history lessons should cover the "landmarks of British history" with a renewed focus "on military and political events". "Too few children could tell you which British monarch united the thrones of England and Scotland and who Nelson was", he added....."

More here

Leftists obviously feel that Hitler gives them an ideal "prop" or dramatic example to use in preaching their two great gospels of the desirability of equality and the evils of racism -- so Hitler seems to have become the only bit of history that they want to talk about.

This monomania, however, has of course greatly limited what their pupils know when they leave school. And we see one effect of that recently:

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has accused the British of perpetuating an outdated image of Germany, which is still represented in the British media by goose-stepping Nazis. Speaking during a visit to London, Mr Fischer complained that young Germans, including his own children, did not recognise their country as it was portrayed on British television. "If you want to learn how the traditional Prussian goose-step goes you have to watch British television, because in Germany in the younger generation -- even my generation - nobody knows how to do it," he said.

More here

British ignorance about the modern world is however far from limited to ignorance about modern Germany. The ignorance is pervasive. The British learn little about even such a closely related country as Australia -- where something like 10% of the population was actually born in Britain. It is amusing to Australians that the British in Britain almost universally labour under the delusion that Australians address one-another as "cobber". I have lived in Australia for 61 years and I have yet to hear one Australian address another Australian in that way. I believe it may have been a usage that had some currency on the battlefields of World War I but that was also the end of it, if so. In fact, of course, working-class Australians address one-another in exactly the same way that working-class Londoners (Cockneys) do: As "mate". The American equivalent, of course, is "bud" or "buddy".


Credentialism crushed -- but only around the edges

On 13th I noted the case of Tristram Jones-Parry, Headmaster of the prestigious Westminster School, who has been told he is "unqualified" to teach in British State schools because he lacks some worthless bit of paper that the British government issues to people who have nothing better to do than waste several years undergoing pretend-education in teaching methods. There has recently been an even more ludicrous case of the same bone-headedness:

"A former professor of physics who has contributed experiments to the international space programme has been told he is not suitably qualified to teach the subject in a state school. David Wolfe, who ran the physics department of a large American University, must go back to school to take a maths GCSE or leave the school where he has taught for three years.

Sixth-formers at the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, Bucks, voted Mr Wolfe the most inspirational teacher last year and his subject is so popular that nearly a third of the 450-strong sixth form are studying it at A-level. But the American professor who has retired to England has been told that his qualification - a PhD in physics from the University of Pennsylvania, one of the eight Ivy League schools - is not sufficient. Mr Wolfe does not want to take exams and submit himself to assessment at the age of 65 and says he teaches because he loves the job and wants to give something back to society.

He is making a stand against the red tape and inflexible rules which also prevent the headmaster of Westminster, one of the leading independent schools, from teaching maths in the state system on his retirement from a distinguished career in education. Tristam Jones-Parry, 57, has complained that he will either have to retrain or work as an unqualified teacher at a reduced salary before he can "give a bit back in a state school".

Boys at the Royal Grammar School have drawn up a petition which was sent to David Miliband, the school standards minister, complaining at the way Mr Wolfe was being treated. Tim Dingle, the headmaster, says that if the rules are not changed he will be prepared to break them by continuing to employ Mr Wolfe. "David Wolfe is the most inspirational and highly qualified teacher of physics I have ever seen," said Mr Dingle, who has taught in both independent and state schools. "The country is desperately short of physics teachers and schools can't get them despite all the incentives handed out by the Government... I am incensed by the inflexibility of the rules and by the fact that David Miliband has refused to even consider making an exception for this extremely talented physicist and teacher."

More here

But all the publicity of their idiocy was in the end too much for even British bureaucrats. They suddenly "discovered" that there was a way, after all, for Prof. Wolfe to gain their seal of approval:

"After the flurry of media exposure last week Wolfe was summoned to the phone. On the other end was "a very nice man" at the Department for Education and Skills. He told him that an assessor from the University of Gloucester would soon come to the school to observe one of his lessons. If it was fine, hey presto, he would be a qualified teacher.

"It's a complete volte face by the government," says Dingle. "No other head has heard of this 'fast-track' route. Heads up and down the country are saying, 'I beg your pardon?'" Nonetheless, he adds, "This time next week I earnestly hope David Wolfe will be a qualified teacher. Hurrah!"

More here

I guess Tristram Jones-Parry will be expecting a call from a "nice man" soon too.


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

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