Truth anyone?

I was reading this article this morning, about a teachers interesting new approach to teaching history.

Some people may agree or disagree about whether or not children should be told the 'truth' about certain historical events. At the end of the day truth is subjective just like history. The problem with history is that the past is told by those who win.

When I was a kid we were taught that the failed invasion of Spanish Armada in 1588 was a huge victory for Britain. When I studied it again years and year later, everything wasn't so cut and dry. Both the English and Spanish text books have very different accounts, so who was right?

I had a very fair teacher in the sense that she didn't like to sugar coat history and did her best to challenge us to see beyond the lies and bias with which history is told and retold. The point she made to us was don't take the interpretation and commentary as Gospel, just look at the evidence and draw your own conclusion even if it contradicts the most common opinion.

Until I was 16, School history tried to teach me that the British Empire was a great and marvellous, I often felt like pointing out that half the class were descended form the ex-colonies and we knew better. In fact you'd have to be completely ignorant if you think that anyone from an ex-colony (who knows thier own history) would think that, being invaded and run by a foreign power, stripping your land of its resources, plundering wealth, leaving the native population in poverty and having the nerve to call you 'uncivilised' was a good thing.

E had to explain all of this at one time to a friend of ours at university, who was shocked because that wasn't what he was taught. I understand, I mean what country would be brave enough to teach their past errors in the public education system? Who wants to say that the Empire was responsible for slavery and inventing concentration camps? The answer, its easier to teach what you want people to know, becasue how many are going to be bothered to look beyound what they are taugh in school?

***What not to get for X-mas***


  1. Good points all round. I only found out a few weeks ago that during the South African War, 1899-1902, the British Commander in Chief, H H Kitchener, resorted to brutal methods in the last 18 months of the war, such as burning farms and herding Boer women and children into concentration camps, resulting in the deaths of 20,000 men, women and children.
    It's a crazy world we live in.

  2. Yes, it's easier to teach people what you want them to know, and it's even easier if they're from the same racial, economic, and geographical background. At least then, there's no argument.

  3. The way history is taught in the british school system is a farce. They would have you believe they bought civilisation to the savages. They didn't, the British Empire is responsible for many of the land disputes in the world (Northen Ireland, Kashmir etc.)
    As an irish person living in the UK it's frustrating to meet people who have no clue about the problems that Britain created in the past. It's all 'blame the IRA' or 'blame pakistan' when in reality it was Britain that created the problems in the fist place.

    Rant over.

  4. I have an Armenian friend who wrote a paper about the Armenian genocide that occured in Turkey...who flat out deny it ever happened. Like the Holocaust doubters, I find it completely bizarre that people think they could ( and maybe they do) get away with the murder of millions of people. It just blows my mind.

    ***Dissection kits are super bizarre presents.

  5. 'his story', it up to you whether u want to believe his story or not :)

  6. I wonder if history has ever been so funny? I mean, maybe it's finally because we have access to the world in seconds via the internet that the truth in any situation will start prevailing.

    I have a feeling that the way we look at history is evolving. Hopefully the way it is recorded is becoming more fair.

  7. Here's my solution to studying history correctly...

    Just don't.

    Who cares about a bunch of dead assholes anyway?

    (I am making a joke...just so you know) ;)


  8. Thankfully, many students nowadays are also sharpening their critical thinking skills--maybe they won't think of everything they read about or are taught as the gospel truth. I love history, but I know that there's always at least two sides to every story.

    LOL at Steve's comment, btw.

  9. History is always open to interpretation and there are always two sides to every story. Like in US history boo when they talk about slavery (and the years of racism that followed) most of the brutality is glossed over. You can access true history but you have to want to. If people don't challenge what they are told we just have to wait for the minestry of infomation to tell us what we need to know.

  10. I never cared for history class when I was younger. Now that I'm older, I like to explore the past via the internet. As far as history books, it depends on who wrote them as to the perspective you will recieve from reading it. Truth usually has nothing to do with it.

  11. Excellent points. I think that is one of the reasons I never liked my history classes much. My teachers were always so bias and I would get differing opinions on the same piece of history wondering who was right. I guess I'll never know, because I didn't live back then, but you are absolutely right. History is subjective.

  12. I have to admit, I never did have much interest in history, therefore would never look beyond a textbook, which sucks because I consider reading a textbook an event in its own right and therefore to not be told the completely truth in an unbiased manner is annoying, especially when I thought I knew something and then get told I was wrong.

    The frog thing is disgusting

  13. Excellent post. I like how that teacher took all his students' belongings for emphasis.

    I read this book called "Lies My Teacher Told Me" that dissects American history, comparing what we are taught and what actually occurred. It's a great read.

    There's not even any evidence that turkey was served at the first Thanksgiving.

  14. Very, very true. I really enjoy finding out the real truth about some of history's bigger stories. Sometimes when bored, I just revise history on my own. Sadly, the text book companies aren't buying...

  15. Who knows how much of our history has been interpreted or told from a certain vantage to serve specific agendas. Half the stuff we think we know could possibly all be B.S.

    Then the question becomes, from where and how do we get the truth, or is it even feasible to think we can get to the "real" story/stories.


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