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Friday, 17 January 2014

Should history teachers use Blackadder in the classroom?

In an article on the teaching of the First World War in The Daily Mail on 2nd January, 2014, Michael Gove wrote: “Our understanding of the war has been overlaid by misunderstandings, and misrepresentations which reflect an, at best, ambiguous attitude to this country and, at worst, an unhappy compulsion on the part of some to denigrate virtues such as patriotism, honour and courage. The conflict has, for many, been seen through the fictional prism of dramas such as Oh! What a Lovely War, The Monocled Mutineer and Blackadder, as a misbegotten shambles – a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite. Even to this day there are Left-wing academics all too happy to feed those myths.”

Gove then goes on to argue: "The First World War may have been a uniquely horrific war, but it was also plainly a just war. The ruthless social Darwinism of the German elites, the pitiless approach they took to occupation, their aggressively expansionist war aims and their scorn for the international order all made resistance more than justified.”

The Education Secretary says it is time to listen to historians such as Margaret Macmillan who has “demonstrated how those who fought were not dupes but conscious believers in king and country, committed to defending the western liberal order”.

Gove then goes on to attack Professor Sir Richard Evans, the Cambridge historian by claiming that he has argued that “the men who enlisted in 1914 may have thought they were fighting for civilisation, for a better world, a war to end all wars, a war to defend freedom: they were wrong”. Just to make sure that The Daily Mail readers will support his argument about Evans, he points out that he also writes for The Guardian

For the rest of the article see:

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