Friday, July 13, 2007

History just randomly happens, I guess

This story really hit me, because the part of history that interests me the most is the story of the people who shape history. Yes, certain events occur, and economists can probably predict that certain events are going to happen anyway, but the way in which the events occur is completely shaped by the people who participate in the events.

Using an American example, you can't understand the Civil War if you don't look at people such as Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis.

But apparently the secondary school educators in the United Kingdom see things differently:

Secondary schools will strip back the traditional curriculum in favour of lessons on debt management, the environment and healthy eating, ministers revealed.

Even Winston Churchill no longer merits a mention after a drastic slimming-down of the syllabus to create more space for "modern" issues.

Along with Hitler, Gandhi, Stalin and Martin Luther King, the former prime minister has been dropped from a list of key figures to be mentioned in history teaching....

The only individuals now named in guidance accompanying the curriculum are anti-slavery campaigners Olaudah Equiano and William Wilberforce....

[Critics] said that while the two World Wars remain on the curriculum as broad topics the failure to specify teaching on Churchill - while naming other individuals - downgraded his importance.

The move was called "madness" by his grandson Nicholas Soames, the Tory MP.

"It is absurd. I expect he wasn't New Labour enough for them," he said.

Tory spokesman on children Michael Gove added: "Winston Churchill is the towering figure of twentieth century British history.

"His fight against fascism was Britain's finest hour. Our national story can't be told without Churchill at the centre."

Ironically, the United States seems to be moving in the opposite direction. We've always honored Washington, Lincoln, and some others, and in recent decades the aforementioned King has been added to the pantheon of the American civil religion.

Here's another example of how two people shaped the American political debate. Extreme Mortman posted this:

Yes, Lady Bird Johnson loved flowers. But as we wistfully remember her fondness for daffodils and tulips, might we also remember her husband’s affection for a flower far more sinister … the daisy?

I challenge the British historians - how can you talk about the U.S. election of 1964 without discussing the people involved?

The moral - people matter.


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