Real Exciting History
As the Ice Age breaks, early human history of maybe 12,000 years ago is seen at Göbekli Tepe, S-E Turkey* - and again at Çatalhöyük, also in Turkey, about 9,500 yrs ago - and perhaps a while later in the Indus Valley** - then in earliest China - then a game-change (for us) by invention of writing in the better known civilizations of Sumer & Babylon - along with Egypt - and the Hittite Empire - then re-born India - followed by the Persian Empire - then Phoenicia and Greece - then the Roman Empire - Hunnic Empire - & Byzantium - followed by the Arabian / Persian Empire - and, in Northern Europe, Carl the Great (Charlemagne) - then the Mongol & Turkic Empires, led by Genghis Khan and Tamerlane - followed by the Ottoman Empire. Plus, in the Americas, the Olmec - Maya - Inca - Aztec Empires.
[Plus countless smaller `empires' - all eventually collapsing.]
Some refs - source1*- source2** - reasons
Only then came the gradual - and rather messy - emergence of modern 'States'. *1
Contrast that richness of known world-history with the pathetic and biased scraps British schoolkids have to learn by rote.
What are our UK recollections of boring history? - Julius Caesar, William the Conk, then a dreary list of `English Kings'nQueens' (mostly Norman-French, Dutch, and now German) - finito, that's all.
We speculate that our `rulers' are either ignorant or maybe ashamed / covering-up.
Combine `History' with `Geography' - that's a combo guaranteed to inspire kids' interest; beginning as it does with saber-toothed tigers, giant sloths, mammoths & mastodons, and huge marsupials.
Replacing the biased & boring scraps now force-fed to kids in UK (and most other countries), the new subject - maybe call it `World Studies' - could be taught, learned and absorbed bit-by-bit or comprehensively, so no-one misses out.
UPDATE Dec 2011 - `Too insular' - `lack international awareness' - "UK students lack global outlook, says British Council"
UPDATE Mar 2011 - `No narrative' - `disconnected texts' - `written for exams' - "History textbooks are failing pupils"
UPDATE Dec 2008 - Finally somone's listening (maybe) - "hist. geog. & science? .. cross-curricular themed classes"?
UPDATE Jan 2008 - Geography teaching is in decline, with schoolchildren claiming it is "boring and irrelevant".
UPDATE Nov. 2007 - UK's kids `less aware' than even the USA's - "British children lack global awareness".
UPDATE July 2007 - `School history fails to give bigger picture' - "Ofsted complains of emphasis on England".
UPDATE May 2007 - UK Education Not Fit For Purpose - "limitations of our target-driven, exam-dominated, box-ticking system".
Virtually all children are born with huge musical (and mathematical) abilities - perfect pitch etc. - which are lost after a few years, because those children are totally alienated by unsympathetic * - snobbish - music teaching at a later stage.
Are UK schools purposely suppressing children's music and language abilities?
UPDATE 2007 The Guardian - "UK 'shamed' by music's elitist label" (text)
Real Language Learning
Children can easily learn several languages - if sympathetic imitation starts early enough.
Personal note - over breakfast, near Monte Rosa, by Italian / Swiss border, was bombarded with questions, in hopeful English & French & German, from a large group of four, five, six & seven year old local children who of course also spoke good Italian. It transpired the glass fronted hotel / restaurant - (maybe entering Biella?) - was home to some and was the others' school-bus stop in snowy weather. They were all curious about NATO ref-16 license plates and the Welsh nationality sticker on the sports-car outside; maybe dragons are popular there also.
That's impossible to imagine in UK, where only a few kids with multi-lingual parents get any useful language training.
UPDATE Mar 2016 - "Communication breakdown as fewer Brits learn European languages" [text version]; `University of Bristol language expert Martin Hurcombe argues that the decline in language studies between GCSE and degree level had become an `annual lament.'.
UPDATE May 2013 - "Learning a foreign language is difficult ... if you start at 11, only do it for three years ..." [text version]; `This is pretty much how schoolchildren in the state sector are taught modern foreign languages in the UK'. - So the Gov't lied when it said that foreign languages would be compulsory in primary schools from age seven - first promised in 2007.
UPDATE Jun 2012 - "England's teenagers lag behind on languages" [text version]; `nine in 10 youngsters aged 14 and 15 are unable to communicate'. - Yet again: `Gov't plans to make foreign languages compulsory in primary schools from age seven'.
UPDATE Aug 2011 - UK is 'worst in Europe for learning foreign languages' - "In Luxembourg, pupils learn between two and three languages compared with an average of just one in the UK" [text version];
UPDATE Mar 2007 - UK Gov't claims plan to teach languages [text version];"Every child in England will start learning a modern foreign language in primary school from the age of seven, the government announced today" [they promised to start in 2010 - but they lied; see above].
However, UK's incompetent bureaucrats immediately claimed that will be `too difficult'.
Ha! How `difficult' is switching-on a language video? Children learn languages by imitation. Using recorded lessons they can pick up real accents and real speech patterns, which they probably couldn't get from a UK teacher.
Our research implies that the UK Gov't is purposely preventing language learning by the majority of UK's children.
Here's possible reasons:
`2012- Learning a foreign languge helps rational thinking'
backed up by
`June 2013 - Benefits of bilingualism'
`Aug. 2013 - Early language learning easy; later needs brain changes'
Think about it
We now know that virtually all children are born with innate mathematical abilities (as with music). Unfortunately these are most often lost by alienation, because education in the UK tends to be boring, authoritarian and elitist.
In reality, to build things and to pay for the building, you only need `useful' mathematics, which has always meant understanding shapes and angles (geometry), and amounts and proportions (percentages & ratios).
That's what the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans used, and that's what we still use, for all construction, for all gov't and civil administration and for all business dealings.
Anything more mathematical can get boring, tedious and, more importantly, is only needed by specialists.
So why do kids get tormented by months & years of non-useful algebra and calculus and worse - but most aren't properly taught to figure out simple shapes & angles, simple percentages & ratios, and simple logic?
[And IT teaching is abysmal in the UK (see below). At the very least, in addition to `coding' [plus a minimum of HTML + JAVA], we need to add basic Boolean logic (`truth tables') - how a digital brain thinks. It's graspable in a few days and is necessary for clear thought about communications, IT and computers, and for just coping in a techno age.]
The most basic and essential tools that kids and all of us need for daily life are being withheld - not properly taught - in UK's schools.
Do our politicos really want a dumbo population? Maybe so we can't realize how much we're being conned and robbed by the lying `averages' ref-14 of corrupt politicians and civil-servants. ref-15
UPDATE Oct. 2016 - `Fewer than half of British adults are able to do basic financial calculations, according to a major new international report.' (text) - OECD Report [PDF]
UPDATE Jun. 2015 - British Academy report says: - "Numeracy crisis threatens to hold back UK in global data race" (text)
UPDATE May 2015 - UK schools `teach for failure' - "UK has largest literacy [+maths] gap between employed & unemployed in Western world" (text)
UPDATE Feb. 2014 "Children of factory workers and cleaners in Far East achieve better exam results than offspring of British lawyers and doctors" says OECD (text)
UPDATE Feb. 2014 - "Software is becoming a critical layer of all our lives ... crucial that every child learns to code" (text)
UPDATE Oct. 2013 - "England's young people near bottom of global league table for basic skills" `OECD study finds that a quarter of adults in England have the maths skills of a 10 year-old.' (text)
UPDATE Feb 2013 - "maths pupils in England two years behind Asian peers" England's brightest pupils failing to keep pace with world's best, Institute of Education study shows (text)
UPDATE Jan 2013 - "U.K. Tech Chiefs Demand Revolution In IT Education" British CIOs say schoolchildren need to learn programming as early as possible to get the U.K. back in the tech game (text)
UPDATE Dec 2012 - "One in four adults has the maths skills of a nine-year-old or worse" and the reason - "taught by teachers with just a C-grade at GCSE" (text of both articles)
UPDATE Oct 2012 - `children "bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word and Excel by bored teachers" - (text) "Education Secretary himself warned that the curriculum was not fit for purpose"
UPDATE July 2012 - `Students lack maths skills required' - (text) ""maths should be compulsory for all students post-16""
UPDATE Mar 2012 - `Millions 'struggling' with maths' - (text) "UK's attitude to maths must change"
UPDATE Dec 2011 - `Poverty & bias causes poor maths skills in boys _and_ girls' - (text) "Solution ... decrease poverty ... increase equality"
UPDATE Aug 2011 - "Desperately need ... percentages and fractions" - (text) "pupils need to focus on learning everyday skills for finance and business"
UPDATE Jun 2011 - Other countries have three times more maths students than UK - "Major problem ... UK teenagers leaving school without good maths skills, report finds."
UPDATE Mar 2011 - 'Immoral' schools vocational courses - "absolutely scandalous" that more than half ... teenagers left school without C-grade passes in maths and English"
UPDATE Feb 2010 - Basic sums baffle primary teachers - "I don't think you can teach maths if you can't do it."
UPDATE Jan. 2009 - An "unacceptably" high number of people in England cannot read, write and count properly - "We've got to accept there's something wrong with our teaching" (check graph)
UPDATE Sept 2008 - Ofsted criticises maths lessons - `Nearly half of all maths lessons are not good enough'
UPDATE June 2008 - Quadratic equations a waste of time - `maths beyond simple and applied arithmetic is needed only by specialists'
UPDATE Mar 2008 - Public education sub-standard - `47% of those polled wished they had learnt more maths at school'
UPDATE 2007 - UK Education Not Fit For Purpose - `half those questioned thought their basic maths and English skills let them down'.
Reading & Writing
It should be obvious that reading and writing - literacy - empowers individuals and, more importantly, is the defining characteriistic, indeed the carrier, of civilization and its history.
It's also clear that guidance towards literacy (and expectations) in UK schools is heavily constrained and distorted by `class-bias' (=race bias), both in the teaching staff and in general school administration - i.e. the head-teachers and school boards.
UPDATE Aug 2016 - "Illiterate Britain: 1 in 20 adults have reading age of a 5-year-old"; `A quarter of British adults have literacy levels so low they would struggle to read a bus timetable, new research has found.' (text)
UPDATE Sep 2014 - UK's `Literary Crisis' w/ "1.5 million 11-year-olds unable to read properly by 2025"; Report reveals: "45 per cent of white British boys cannot read well aged 11... Only Romania has a worse record among EU members". (text)
UPDATE July 2013 - "Bright boys from poor families are more likely to do badly in UK than other developed nations" - `PA - Bright poor boys are around two and a half years behind their rich, clever male classmates in reading, a study has found. Among clever girls, the reading gap between those from the richest and poorest homes was two years and four months.' (text)
N.b. - personal recollection of that English class-fear.
What if we'd been here one or two hundred years ago?
The situation of ordinary working-class kids in the UK doesn't seem to have changed much - except by a matter of degree - from the 19th Cent.
Under Church of England * rules,
workers' children were `absolutely forbidden' * from learning to write or to know mathematics.
The English gov't - speaking through the Church of England - was brutally arrogant about their motives -
to prevent workers' children `aspiring above their station'. *
That is, to make sure most of us were stuck - as ignorant slave labor.
* from p. 210 of `Number' by John McLeish - 1992, ISBN 0-00-654484-3
There was _no_ state-funding for the nation's schools until 1832. Then Parliament `granted' only £30,000 - less than for the King's stables.
"University education was little better. The English universities were monopolized by Church of England Tories, all other would-be entrants being excluded by religious tests. The education provided was tailored to the needs of huntin'-shootin'and fishin' country parsons, usually younger sons who had no money, no brains and no inclination for the army."
We don't even learn real Physics: the syllabus is mostly stuff we already know to be incomplete or even untrue. ref-17 & ref-17A & ref-17B & ref-17C
Why? Are the politicos scared someone might get a clearer view of reality? ref-18
Well, the answer depends on your viewpoint. Suggest an unbiased look on the web - maybe starting at `search perceptions' and follow your instincts.
BTW - here's a practical example - `Misconceptions spread by K-6 textbooks: "ELECTRICITY" - by William J Beaty
You can see the UK curriculum seems purposely arranged to suppress our abiltities.
Why? Do UK's politicos actually want ref-19 a nation of ignorant, racist, talentless chauvinists, incapable of rational thought and unable to communicate with thinking fellow humans around the world? As most of the the politicos seem to be?
UPDATE Sept. 2007
`Crap system intended to only advantage the elite'. (paraphrased)
"Boring lessons blamed for rise in truancy"
UPDATE Dec. 2007
"Shamefully, Britain remains stuck at the bottom of the international league tables."
Report - "School results still depend heavily on class"
UPDATE Feb. 2011
UK's RSA has "concern about "cheap" A-levels"
Report - UK Unis prefer "mediocre" upper-class entrants
2,370 Years Ago
Athenian - "All freemen, I conceive, should learn as much of these branches of knowledge as every child in Egypt is taught when he learns the alphabet. In that country arithmetical games have been invented for the use of mere children, which they learn as a pleasure and amusement. They have to distribute apples and garlands, using the same number sometimes for a larger and sometimes for a lesser number of persons; and they arrange pugilists, and wrestlers as they pair together by lot or remain over, and show how their turns come in natural order.
Another mode of amusing them is to distribute vessels, sometimes of gold, brass, silver, and the like, intermixed with one another, sometimes of one metal only; as I was saying they adapt to their amusement the numbers in common use, and in this way make more intelligible to their pupils the arrangements and movements of armies and expeditions, in the management of a household they make people more useful to themselves, and more wide awake; and again in measurements of things which have length, and breadth, and depth, they free us from that natural ignorance of all these things which is so ludicrous and disgraceful."
(`Laws' - 360 BCE)
"It is in fact nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry;
for what this delicate little plant needs more than anything, besides stimulation, is freedom.
It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty."
- Albert Einstein
(Autobiographical Notes, 1949, in Schilpp 1949 p.17)
junking 33% of the curriculum - so removing misinformation and ending 'curriculum rush';
reintroducing valuable non-classroom subjects - music, sport, PE, drama, swimming, private reading / private study etc - to the school week;
scrapping homework completely - to prevent damaging class-bias and discrimination;
would substantially improve characters and academic outcomes!
UK's MULTI-EXAM SYSTEM
Why do UK politicians seem always to choose, initially anyway, the most harmful and inefficient methods and systems?
By 2006 - UK's intensive multiple exam system has had the effect of making `valuable' - so far as selfish teachers and heads are concerned - only those students pretty well guaranteed to achieve good passes in certain `academic' subjects.
At all stages the others are deemed `worthless' - by selfish teachers and heads - because the league tables are biased toward pre-selection.
So, at all stages they tend to be abandoned - by selfish teachers and heads - whilst in reality they are most important students of all. They are our future - both as work-force and voters! * - **
I suspect politicians purposely make those `erroneous' choices because they are hand-in-glove with a civil-service ruled by greedy dishonest elitists, and need to preserve privilege and corruption for their own advantage.
Which is why we see this faked `incompetence' in all matters:- of local & nat'l infrastructure, education, taxation, law, policing and of the electoral system itself. ***