A citizenry with no sense of heritage
British Millennials are dangerously ignorant, said Frank Furedi. A recent poll by a military charity found that nearly half of them think Winston Churchill was prime minister during the First World War, not the Second, while another 10 percent believe Margaret Thatcher—who occupied 10 Downing Street from 1979 to 1990—was running the nation from 1914 to ’18. A horrifying 5 percent actually said the bloodiest battle of WWI was the Battle of Helm’s Deep, which in fact took place in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Yet we can’t blame this generation of 18- to 35-year-olds for failing to memorize facts we never taught them. Today’s emotionally focused educators “sneer at rote-based lessons” and instead ask students to write essays imagining what it might be like to be a suffragette, or a conscientious objector in 1915. Modern leaders who view the British Empire as “nothing but racism and brutality” have discouraged the teaching of British history. The result is that an entire generation of adults has failed to absorb British values. If we don’t teach our young about Napoleon and Hitler, about “how and when Britain stymied the rise of a European dictator” not once, but twice, what will happen when we are faced with a third?