Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The Grouchy Gove: A Horrible History Special

So Michael Gove has decided to attack Blackadder, for not being a true reflection of history. Guess what? It is a sitcom and not a documentary?

But as a result of it being set in four historical times (more when you include Blackadder's Christmas Carol and Blackadder Back and Forth) it can lead to quizzical young minds to look into those periods of history more thoroughly. Indeed you may find some do just that as they do with the Horrible Histories series of books now turned into an award winning TV series.

Nobody can say that Horrible Histories give a full and complete account of the history of the period of that time. Indeed if Gove were to read The Frightful First World War [1999] he would probably have similar palpitations it doesn't give a full a thorough account of the First World War. However, checking on the bookshelves of any bookshop at the moment no one volume, and no doubt no one television series is going to encapsulate all of the history of the war which started 100 years ago later this year.

But when Gove then goes off saying:

"The conflict has, for many, been seen through the fictional prism of dramas such as Oh! What a Lovely War, The Monocled Mutineer and Blackadder, as a misbegotten shambles - a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite. Even to this day there are left-wing academics all too happy to feed those myths."

The alternative is to see it solely through the official histories written by the officer classes that do not admit to failings or mistakes. Things that only in later histories when under the 30 or 50 year rules Government papers revealed that things didn't always go as planned. But isn't that spreading a more right-wing view of things, that is where the majority of the officer classes came from, but not the majority of those who served and certainly not proportionately those that fell. Or then there is the fact that while we did not have TV or Radio in 1914-18 there were the war poets, satire through The Wiper Times and the letters that millions of tommies sent back home describing conditions at the front.

As this year and the four thereafter go on I'm sure that others will be doing what I have already done and find out about those of their family who served and/or fell in the Great War. As someone who has relatives who fell at The Somme, Gallipoli and Ypres amongst others I am a left-ish person who does not take their sacrifices lightly, nor do I accept everything that the officers tell us about such events is fully the truth.

That is what education should be doing for us giving us enquiring minds. Whether those enquiries are sparked from familial interest, Blackadder, Horrible Histories, text books in school/university or some other source of inspiration that is to be nurtured not mock by the Secretary of State for Education.

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