In his superb new book, Civilisation: The West and The Rest, Professor Niall Ferguson wonders whether the real threat to the West is posed not by the rise of China, Islam or CO2 emissions.
Rather, he asks whether the real threat is our loss of faith in the civilisation we inherited from our ancestors.
A British historian, he is the Laurence A. Tisch professor of history at Harvard University, a senior research fellow of Jesus College, Oxford, and a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford.
He concludes that the biggest threat to Western civilisation is posed not by other civilisations but by our pusillanimity — and by the historical ignorance that feeds it.
He blames “educationalists” for this state of affairs. He says:
"Thanks to an educationalists' fad that elevated historical skills above knowledge in the name of new history, combined with the unintended consequences of the curriculum-reform process, too many British schoolchildren leave secondary school knowing only unconnected fragments of Western history: Henry VIII and Adolf Hitler, with a small dose of Martin Luther King Jr.
He gives this telling example:
A survey of first-year history undergraduates at one leading British university revealed only 34 per cent knew who was the English monarch at the time of the Armada, 31 per cent knew the location of the Boer War, 16 per cent knew who commanded the British forces at Waterloo and only 11 per cent could name a single 19th-century British prime minister.
In a similar poll of English children aged between 11 and 18, 17 per cent thought Oliver Cromwell fought at the Battle of Hastings and 25 per cent put World War I in the wrong century.
Throughout the English-speaking world, moreover, the argument has gained ground that it is other cultures we should study, not our own.
…and in Australia?…
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What is the situation in Australia? Don't think for a moment that we have not succumbed to the same forces which have so damaged British education.
In 2007, after millions of taxpayers’ funds had been poured into civic education by the Federal government, Year 10 students were asked "What is the Australian Constitution?"
Such is the thoughtfulness of modern educators, their task was made ludicrously facile by being given four possible answers.
1.The rules about how the major Australian political parties are run;
2. The policies of the Australian federal government;
3.The framework for the ways Australia is governed;
4.All the laws that Australian citizens must obey.
(“Civics education fails to deliver,” 18 February, 2009)
Only 34 per cent identified the correct answer – the framework for the way Australia is governed. That is one in three.
Don't blame the children. Blame the republican forces intent on destroying our national memory.
And do not think I am being paranoid. When the Howard government appointed a committee to supervise the introduction of a national civics education programme, not one constitutional monarchist was chosen.
teh results are for all to see.
And despite this failure, both parties have decided that this justifies the federal authorities going into other areas the clear responsibility of the States.
…national history curriculum disaster…
A glance at one of the results of this federal incursion, the national history curriculum , demonstrates agian the inability of the federal authorities to produce something really worthwhile in what the Constitution intends to be a State responsibility.
The noted authority Dr Kevin Donnelly says the next generation are to be taught history through ‘the politically correct prism of Aboriginal, Asian and environmental perspectives’. ( See the Australian Conservative 1 June 2010 and "The Rudd-Gillard Education Revolution, An Evaluation", Australian Conservative 28 December, 2010)
“Forget,” he says “the importance of Australia’s Western heritage or the impact of science, technology and industry in overcoming poverty and eradicating disease.”
There is no mention of the blindingly obvious fact that our political institutions go back through the Glorious Revolution to the Magna Carta, and overall, little reference to the British contribution to Australia.
The curriculum he says, is politically correct and even demonstrates political bias.
Both he and Dr. David Daintree, president of Campion College, also lament the slight reference to Christianity, given that our Judeo Christian values are one of the pillars of our nation: “Christianity has role in learning,” The Australian, 29 December, 2010.
Now the new Baillieu Victorian government has indicated it will delay applying the national curriculum in core subjects. The New South Wales Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Barry O’Farrell, has indicated a similar reserve.
If young Australians are to be taught nothing or almost nothing about their heritage, how will they be able to appreciate it? Education is far too important to be left in the hands of politically correct elites.
In the meantime, federal governments have not shown themselvesf adept in fulfilling their core federal functions.
Why are they so determined to move into matters reserved to the States?
In the meantime, and without one tax dollar, ACM has launched a new version of its education project.
You can help us to fight the level of ignorance which exists in the nation.
Just click on the icon to the left, 11th Anniversary Appeal.