Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Europe is lost: Revisionist History in the UK

Sunday evening April 15 is
Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day). Place a yellow candle in
your window at sunset that evening to show that you have
the courage to speak the truth of what happened.

Today as I was driving home from class, I came in on the middle of radio program about revisionist history being taught in the UK. Specifically, they are not teaching the Holocaust or the Crusades in history classes because it might offend Muslim students in the classes. I was going to blog extensively about it when I got home, but Judy Aron over at Consent of the Governed has already done that.

I do have some commentary on this issue, though. It has to do with fear.

Notice that the schools in the UK are worried about offending Muslims. They are not worried about offending Jews, who might have family members murdered in the Holocaust. They are not worried about offending their own elders, some of whom served in Europe during WWII and many of whom suffered terribly in the London blitz. They are not worried about offending gypsies, pacifists, trade-unionists, and gays, many of whom have predecessors who were killed in the death camps. So why are they worried about offending Muslims?

Could it have something to do with the fact that it was Muslim extremists that perpetrated the London bombings several years ago? Could have something to do with the fact that it has been Muslim extremism that has perpetrated almost all of the terrorist acts in this new century? I suspect this is the case.

I think we should be very worried when people silence themselves and refuse to speak the truth as they know it because of the threat of violence. It should be even more worrisome when government institutions do the same. Silence in Europe! Where have we seen that before?

Good night, England.


Beth said...

This is profoundly disturbing. Appalling. I cannot adequately express how deeply grieved and angered I am by this.

Yellow House Homeschool said...

Belated but appropriate comment: being English, but living abroad, I was surprised to read your post. As far as I knew the Holocaust was never part of the compulsory curriculum in the UK, though it turned up rather frequently at my school, as much in English and general studies as history, because individual teachers considered it a matter of importance. What we did in history was largely based on methodologies, principles and case studies, rather than specific things you had to know about. The Holocaust tended to come up in the context of 'can we learn from history?'

Now this rumour you have posted about seems to be flying round the US like wild fire since my MIL has brought it up, goading me into doing some research. Looks like I was wrong: the Holocaust will form part of the new UK curriculum next year, and probably has been in it for some time. In the meanwhile, some journalists at a loss for opportunities to stir up seasonal debate have found a couple of school-teachers who are prepared to give a reason why they aren't teaching it at present.

So, Europe is no more lost than America would be if there are a few teachers to be found who are not really addressing the savage destruction of the Native American people (and I personally have come across a textbook that explicitly said that before Europeans arrived there was 'no civilisation' in America and left it at that).

Sorry to be long, I hope this will seem like mitigated good news.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Yellow house homeschool:

Perhaps you could cite your sources? I actually did look up the source of the "rumor" and it was reported in the English newspaper called The Guardian. That paper referenced other papers in the UK. They did not mention the new compulsory curriculum and I'd really love to know that it is true. If the compulsory curriculum is going into place next year, perhaps it is because English people have demanded it after reading these stories in the English Newspapers.

What is interesting is that I generally watch BBC news on PBS but have been missing it lately due to schedule conflicts. My sister reports that this was reported there months ago, and at the same time that it was reported that the classics and the Crusades were not being taught either.

A foster-daughter is living in England right now. She likes the country and the people, but she does not know anything about English education except that is hugely divided by class. So perhaps you are right in that it is only certain schools. And here I thought England had a standard curriculum. But it appears England is more like the US in the matter of local control. Live and learn.

Yellow House Homeschool said...

Err - I hope posting links works in comments:,,2048161,00.html

See last paragraph.

Details of how and when taught (in some schools obviously). I personally remember seeing Auschwitz footage at age 11. I think that was too traumatic.

See end of article.

Note the context of all this is a general report about teaching emotive issues, in which the subject of the holocaust (and others) was raised.

There has been a national curriculum in the UK for some time but it seems they are overhauling it. In practice, I think there is a situation like in the US, where teach to the test means the less tested things get left out. A lot of wealthier families place their kids in private schools. I don't really know what regulations these schools are subject to.

P.S. Did you know that a daily 'act of religious worship' is compulsory in UK state schools. However, by the time I was 14-15, our head had bowed to student pressure and confined himself to general moral subjects. So I can see how student opinion can affect how teachers apply regulations.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Hi, Yellow house,

Thanks for the info.

I do think that pictures of Auschwitz are too intense for 11 year olds. We still do not show N. the worst of the pictures. And he has not been allowed to see Schindler's list, yet.

As for dealing with the emotional content, I blogged on that subject just a few days ago. But to make a long story short, I believe that it ought to be taught in historical context, as well as in an emotional context. In order for teaching it to be effective, students must see that the ability to go along with horrible things is not German, or Russian or whatever. They need to see that it is one of those human things that we have to guard against.

Anyway, I am really relieved to know that the English people are not forgetting their own history. The United States got its sense of citizenship and independence from English culture. Although I have to say, that other than fish and chips with vinegar, we cook our meat in a much tastier manner.:)

christinemm said...


If I hear one more thing about someone not teaching something because of fear of offending Muslims I will scream.

It is already happening in America and now the UK?

I believe I was in 7th grade (might have been 6th) when we read "The Diary of Anne Frank" in "language arts". The book changed my life and was a big hit to my innocence. We had not yet learned of World War II in "social studies".

Since I just read "The Book Thief" last week I have been thinking about how interesting it is that Anne Frank's story was taught in Language Arts not in Social Studies. It also was not taught at all with history or anything else, we just did the book and talked of the book, which I think is a fractured way to teach, but hey, that is how public schools do it. I guess one could say then that we were taught "the Holocaust" and not "World War II".

Although it is fiction I highly recommend teens and maybe also preteens who already read Anne Frank's story read "The Book Thief".

I also visited the home where the Frank family hid in Amsterdam and it was very moving to say the least.

One more thing, my friend who homeschools one child and has another in public school told me they teach every religion in the public school (an overview) except they intentionally leave OUT Christianity. They assume that every American knows of Christianity. I think if any religion is to be taught or summarized in a study it should encompass Christianity too, not just Muslim, Hindu, etc.

At the time that I was in public school we learned nothing of any religion at all. Also I was being raised by Athiests so if I did hear of Christianity in school it would have been my only exposure.