Official UK Recognition Of Mistakes In Education Policy
'UK schools going back to basics' The Courier-Mail, 28/12/2004

London: After decades in which boring facts weren't allowed to get in the way of history, British schools are going back to basics by teaching children important dates and events in chronological order.

Britain's Qualification and Curriculum Authority ordered a rethink after a series of surveys exposed glaring gaps in youngsters' knowledge.

Most recently, a BBC poll found almost half of Britons have never heard of Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp.

Youngsters might understand in great detail what conditions were like in a Victorian workhouse or how people lived in medieval times but have no idea D-Day followed the Battle of Britain.

New guidance to teachers stresses the need for youngsters aged 11 to 14 to gain a sense of a timeline in history instead of focusing on specific events in isolation.

In Victorian times and during the early 20th century, children were expected to learn dates by rote. But changing teaching methods in the 1970s and 1980s meant pupils were more likely to be asked to pretend to be historical characters and understand events from their point of view.

British historian David Starkey said he had been pushing for pupils to be taught a map of time for the past 20 years.

"The current mosaic approach where history is taught in little fragments has been a disaster. It is comparable to the refusal to teach phonics in reading or mental arithmetic in maths," Dr Starkey said.