Sunday, 25 May 2014

Removing Foreign influences from Schools is bad

I am greatly concerned by the rumours that are flying around (I've not been able to watch the news or read a paper today or this weekend as my kids make me watch Tangled and Frozen AGAIN...) about Michael Gove's plans to remove non-British subject matter and books from our schools.

Where I work we have a video on loop of a Minister stating that his party had removed all the foreign influences on the Country's Culture. Sadly this Minister was Reichsminister Josef Goebbels and his speech ran something like this:

We have a German theatre, a German Press, German Music and German Arts. Those who said that we could not remove the Jews from our culture have been proven spectacularly wrong.

OK - this is a pretty extreme example.

However just by thinking about this and tweeting earlier I realised how much could be denied to our children.

How many of these books would be banned?
No Four Musketeers, Count of Monte Cristo Goethe, Schiller, Mozart, Beethoven, Washington Irving (who I think is a genius!), Schubart, Bach, Schuman, Saint Saens Carnival of the animals, Catcher in the Rye, To kill a Mockingbird, Dostoyevsky, Pasternak, Les Miserables, Haiku Poems, Marx and Engles....

World War One studies will only have the poetry of Sassoon and Wilfred Owen and not include the classic that is "All quiet on the Western front" by the German author/soldier Remarque.

We cannot just remove a whole swathe of ideas and literature, the opportunity to expand young minds literally and musically just because the writer or composer's are not British. It is madness, like putting on the blinkers! Young people should learn who they enjoy culturally and given choice rather than being railroaded into just Dickens and Shakespeare.

The subject of history will be decimated as we concentrate entirely on Britain and her achievements. I studied world history starting at school with the slave trade and its impact on European and American history, economy and society. I went on to study Russia 1900-90, Japanese Middle ages and Modern history as well as the Renaissance across Europe in the 15th and 16th century - a period in which England was nothing but a sleepy backwater compared to the courts of Florence and Paris.

Britain has not experienced revolution, not in the same way as France and Russia and even Germany! Its history can be very rich, it can also be very dull - has anyone read history from 1815-51? I really struggled and I was interested! History is a multi-faceted subject with other nations having an input in British actions. Take the Boer War - Germany was actively politicking and supporting the Boer to cause trouble with Britain. Half if not more of Britain's policies were influenced by France.

The British Monarchy and its genealogy has been foreign for centuries and their interactions with their families abroad have started and ended many wars over the centuries. Victoria was half German, she married a German and she was Grandmother to the Kaiser. King George I didn't speak English, and George II only grudgingly. William III was a Dutchman, Mary Queen of Scots was French... Are they to be culled?

I agree that there are many aspects of British Culture that have been forgotten like Robin Hood, Mallory's King Arthur, Lord of the Flies, Poetry by Yeats, Byron, Shelley and history like the Boer War that has long been forgotten that maybe should appear in school but not at the expense of cleansing "foreign" influences like this.

Half of growing up is discovering what you like, opening up your mind and reading around be it in English, History or even musically. Let us not stifle our young from the beginning and leave them thinking that British is the only way.

Guess that is one more thing I will have to be teaching my kids outside of school. They will read whatever they want and be taught about foreign politics, history and geography by us.

To quote a great writer (can't remember if it was Burke or Heinrich Hahn) - Where once you burn books you will soon burn people.

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