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Thread: Battle of Britain - is it time it was part of education in schools?

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    Battle of Britain - is it time it was part of education in schools?

    I consider myself to be honoured to share my birthday with the first day of what is arguabily the most important battle of the 20th Centurary i.e. The Battle of Britain.

    Currently, entheusiasts apart, these days it seems, if you can find anyone who has even heard about it let alone make a vague desciption you are doing well.

    It is also easy for the layman to feel it was just an Anglo-German affair, when in reality it was a very international affair, with the aircrew of at least 17 nations (including Germany) taking part, while this was happening the whole world watched and held its breath over the outcome which would mean greater freedom or oppression.

    It also tends to be forgtten that the man on the street played their part, whether through an act of defiance by carrying on regardless or as a factory worker making the parts and arms to keep the aircraft in the air.

    There are some wonderful memorials and museums dedicated to the battle, but without the understanding, is their meaning is in danger of being diluted.

    Now the 70th anniversaries are in progress, wouldn't the greatest memorial to "the Few" be to teach our children and ensure that our younger generations were taught why & what it was about?

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    Without doubt and many children with grandparents like us get the knowledge regardless. But I have no doubt that many things SHOULD be taught in schools which are not!

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    It should be curriculum. I am blessed with kids with the same insane love of Aircraft, old and new, as myself so they learn themselves, but not every kid is so lucky to have a mum who can holler out what aircraft is going overhead by engine noise heh. They're trying to convince me to keep em off school to see the fly in at NCL at the end of the month...

    But yeah, they learn about American events at school, school kids can tell you what Divali is and why it is (bah if I know!) but couldn't even begin to know of British historic events that weren't kings beheading queens, Mind if I hadn't had the books in the house my two woulda made me go buy em!

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    World War II is part of the National Curriculum, but it is left to individual schools / teachers to determine the specific content.

    The normal mainstays are Evacuation and The Blitz but as a facilitator for some education groups that visit NAM I have delivered sessions on the Battle of Britain at the specific request of a couple of different schools – including one from South Yorkshire.
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    My youngest had to do an essay on why the RAF won the BoB. With a little assistance (ahem), I think that he came up with an honest appraisal of the comparitive performance of the different aircraft and tactics involved. the end result was that his female teacher (early 20s and just out of Uni), stated that that was all wrong and it was down to the fact that the RAF had better pilots...full stop!

    If only all history could be as simplistic as that....

    John

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    I do not know what is like now but for us it was Dunkirk, Pearl Harbour, Hiroshima, Done Followed by what seemed like years of studying Native Americans mmmm usefull stuff

    Ben

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    That's a comment on the quality of some of today's teachers. And it doesn't help the relationship between pupil and teacher when you tell your son that she is talking through her proverbial!

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    Quote Originally Posted by 12jaguar View Post
    My youngest had to do an essay on why the RAF won the BoB. With a little assistance (ahem), I think that he came up with an honest appraisal of the comparitive performance of the different aircraft and tactics involved. the end result was that his female teacher (early 20s and just out of Uni), stated that that was all wrong and it was down to the fact that the RAF had better pilots...full stop!

    If only all history could be as simplistic as that....

    John
    I rest my case.....

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    I am 46 and it wasn't taught when I was at school we just kept learning about the Elizabethans ad nauseum.
    But I am passionate about the Battle of Britain and its not only the sense of sacrifice and achievement but I have a great interest in the technology aswell.
    Todays youngsters just don't get it, all they require is a laptop/wifi/macdonalds. Thats it!
    I know this is a bit of a generalisation but I have come to realise that this is a different generation entirely with very different outlooks on life.
    It would take a major disaster in everybodies everyday life for them to snap out of the texting,msn coma they are in.


    Graham

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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Hunter View Post
    Without doubt and many children with grandparents like us get the knowledge regardless.
    And parents, my little one is only two, went to her first airshow at 6 weeks and is being brought up properly.

    I know that down at Duxford they do cover the BoB but there seems to be as much emphasis on the home front and those indirectly effected by the battle as those who took part.

    What we should remember is that there are plenty out there who think that other non-aviation related events from British history should be more important, there is only so much time to cram everything from the Romans to recent history in and some things have to be left out.

    But as the last battle fought over British soil and still being within living memory I would argue the case for the Battle of Britain
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    Graham - As long as they get rid of MSN and texting but don't get rid of internet forums ?

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    And it might be a generalisation too far. A great deal depends on parental and grandparental influence. My 7 year old grandson has certainly taken the bait and will happily discuss the various participating aircraft, some of the participants, the reasons it took place and its place in the context of the war.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamF View Post
    ...Todays youngsters just don't get it, all they require is a laptop/wifi/macdonalds. Thats it!
    I know this is a bit of a generalisation but I have come to realise that this is a different generation entirely with very different outlooks on life.
    It would take a major disaster in everybodies everyday life for them to snap out of the texting,msn coma they are in.

    Graham
    As you say perhaps too much of a generalisation; we all perhaps do some youngsters an injustice with such stereotypes – you can get some profound and thought provoking views from 7 to 11 year olds on many topics from the Word War II era like: Bomb Disposal; Rationing (healthy eating); Caterpillar, Goldfish and Guinea Pig Club awards etc.

    The key is being able to relate the subject to their present day outlook.

    An interesting anecdotal observation is that some of the best feedback comes from those schools in the less affluent areas – which can make the facilitation role very rewarding!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Burke View Post
    Graham - As long as they get rid of MSN and texting but don't get rid of internet forums ?
    But then we'd have to meet in the pub and use our real names!

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    Going back 15 years to my GCSE History lessons on WWII, I have to say that while some elements of it (political, social etc) were well done, the military element was fairly poor to say the least. The Battle of Britian supposedly lasted from September 1940 to June 1941, and the Japanese were successful at Pearl Harbour and Singapore etc because they had Kamikaze's, which were alleged to be an extremely good idea! You'll be happy to know that muggins here put his hand up whenever such tripe was rolled out, and in general I managed to enlighten the teacher on most of it. I even helped prepare class notes for one lesson, and no I wasn't the 'teacher's pet' type!
    Adler Tag ("Eagle Day") 13th August 1940

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    The times today has some profiles of aircraft, advertising a spot on their website covering the Battle.

    The aircraft - Spitfire!, Bf109E!, err, Typhoon.....

    Oh dear



    Bruce

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    I expect the sub was about 22 and didn't know any of the aircraft, but got lucky with a couple!

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    Maybe he was half way there with Hawker, or are we talking Eurofighter !

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    Quote Originally Posted by benyboy View Post
    I do not know what is like now but for us it was Dunkirk, Pearl Harbour, Hiroshima, Done Followed by what seemed like years of studying Native Americans mmmm usefull stuff

    Ben
    It was pretty mch the same with us when I was dragged through the education system- WWI done to death, WWII glossed over. Nothing at all happened after 1945 (did we imagine the Cold War???), yet as with Ben the Native Americans were studied big time. And from what I hear nowadays it's even worse.

    doesn't even cover the state of history teaching in schools...
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    Native Americans?! Oh, you mean cowboys and Indians!

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    Campfires and feathery headdresses, all that malarkey

    As Benyboy said, very relevant and useful I'm sure...
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    You would have thought it would have changed in all that time in between you leaving and me leaving

    A lot of people choose to ignore the Cold War. I live a couple of miles from an ex Thor ICBM base. You would not have a clue !

    Lets see what happens in these community run schools (a realy bad idea) where pupils are taught outside the national curiculm.

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    Let's see what happens benyboy - I'm not too struck on the national curriculum and a school beholden to its parents after the best, with committed teachers, might just be the answer. Let's return to this in about 3 years time!

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    I hope it does work. The problem I have with it is that I think it will be very difficult to test and accurately compare schools with others. So maybe an improvement in the curiculm and overall standards would be better.

    In relation to this thread a problem with schools outside the curriculum is a school in Kent could give excellent teaching on the Battle of Britain whilst a school in Sheffield (for example) could have student leaving without a clue it even happened. They would probably know a lot about steel though

    Ben

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    Quote Originally Posted by benyboy View Post
    You would have thought it would have changed in all that time in between you leaving and me leaving
    Why you cheeky young scoundrel!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue_2 View Post
    ... Nothing at all happened after 1945 (did we imagine the Cold War???), ...
    Thread drift alert – IIRC the Cold War is a National Curriculum topic at Key Stage 3 and above and once again some of the comments and observations can be very thought provoking!
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    Quote Originally Posted by benyboy View Post
    I hope it does work. The problem I have with it is that I think it will be very difficult to test and accurately compare schools with others. So maybe an improvement in the curiculm and overall standards would be better.

    In relation to this thread a problem with schools outside the curriculum is a school in Kent could give excellent teaching on the Battle of Britain whilst a school in Sheffield (for example) could have student leaving without a clue it even happened. They would probably know a lot about steel though

    Ben
    While I see your point, the thing about a curriculum is it can be altered & enforced. You are probably right about the Kentish B oF B knowlege being greater than that of South Yorkshire steel heritage, but in my mind it is the links that are missing.

    Its one thing to fight a battle over a given area, but what of production of raw materials such as Steel and Aluminium, without which the aircraft would not exhist- where & who produced it & how did it get to where it was needed? On a national or even international scale every aspect of the battle is interwoven that the knowlege of one without the others fails to tell the story as it should be told.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TwinOtter23 View Post
    Thread drift alert – IIRC the Cold War is a National Curriculum topic at Key Stage 3 and above and once again some of the comments and observations can be very thought provoking!
    T'other week at Elvington I was talking to a visitor. He was asking me about the Victor, so I explained what it was, what it did and it's role in the Cold War. After, as he walked away, his (I guess) 10-ish year old son asked him "so did we win the Cold War then Dad?"
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    About a year ago my, then 6 year old grandson, asked my if the Cold war was so called because no one dropped any bombs. Well he's about right, isn't he?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TwinOtter23 View Post
    Thread drift alert – IIRC the Cold War is a National Curriculum topic at Key Stage 3 and above and once again some of the comments and observations can be very thought provoking!
    Yes. I might be showing my age here (or lack of), but we were taught the cold war at GCSE (all the way back in 1999). Our course started at the first world war, leading in to the great depression and the rise of Hitler, all the way up to the handing over of the Sudetenland (excuse spelling). Then we skipped world war II and restarted at the Potsdam conference through to the fall of the Berlin wall (Cuban missile crisis etc, not quite enough V-bombers for my liking but a nice broad coverage).

    Whilst we didn't learn about the Battle of Britain itself we were definitely told about the "why" with the first world war and rise of Hitler.


    Then again our history teacher was ex-army, straight back from Sarajevo and into the classroom. I think a few of the other teachers taught a bit more domestic history than him.
    I don't imagine the cold war focus has lessened in the last ten years.


    Sven

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