So, Who’s Taking Churchill’s Spot?

churchill-photo.jpgDoes anyone understand the rationale behind this?

Britain’s World War II prime minister Winston Churchill has been cut from a list of key historical figures recommended for teaching in English secondary schools, a government agency says.

The radical overhaul of the school curriculum for 11- to 14-year-olds is designed to bring secondary education up to date and allow teachers more flexibility in the subjects they teach, the Government said.

But although Adolf Hitler, Mahatma Gandhi, Joseph Stalin and Martin Luther King have also been dropped from the detailed guidance accompanying the curriculum, Sir Winston’s exclusion is likely to leave traditionalists aghast.

A spokesman for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority said the new curriculum, to be taught from September 2008, does not prescribe to teachers what they must include.

But he added: “Teachers know that they need to mention these pivotal figures. They don’t need to be instructed by law to mention them in every history class.

So, it’s not as if they are forbidding mention of Churchill. But given the tendency we see in this country for teachers to “teach to the test,” a legally-mandated curriculum that omits a part of history as vast as the one occupied by Churchill is a curriculum in which discussion of him will eventually disappear.

Because so many of George W. Bush’s supporters have invoked Churchill, I’ve noticed a new tendency to denigrate Churchill. I wonder if this is part of that. The entire paradigm of World War II — the rise of an evil, expansionist ideology, initially appeased, finally opposed when it is almost too late, and overcome only through enormous and tragic effort — has become a model many prefer to avoid discussing.

Particularly the word “appeasement.” Expect a severe rebuke if you associate any current political leaders with that word. There’s no appeasing going on here. No, we’re just “listening to the American people,” and “restoring credibility with our allies.”

The famous George Santayana saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” might be up for amendment next.

P.S. Unlike the “traditionalists” invoked in the story, I’m equally “aghast” at the move to drop Hitler, Gandhi, King and Stalin from the Brits’ canon as well. I mean, who are we making room for? Simon Cowell? Paris Hilton? Pac Man?

2 thoughts on “So, Who’s Taking Churchill’s Spot?

  1. As long as they still tell the story of their brave queen endangering her precious life by not leaving her castle during the blitz, I think they’re doing their job, re: WWII. Hitler, Stalin, and Churchill are really just a distraction.

    Gandhi is the interesting one to me. Granted, he could be covered with one essay. But still; how do they explain cutting India loose?

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