Students & Parents | General Education

Revisit Your Past

Young people, to their detriment, are neglecting their history
AUGUSTA CHRONICLE   |  February 9, 2008

Sir Winston Churchill. Florence Nightingale. Richard the Lionhearted. All were figures in British history whose reputations and legacies rose to mythical proportions.

But too many young Britons have taken that observation one sad step further.

A survey conducted by a British television channel posed questions to 3,000 teens about historical and fictional figures. The results will leave you shaking your head.

About a quarter of those polled said Churchill and Nightingale never existed. Nearly half said there was no Richard the Lionhearted.

And 58 percent thought that fiction’s most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, was real.

Don’t get too comfortable, though, Americans. Remember that survey a couple of years ago from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni? Just 33 percent of college seniors knew that George Washington was the commanding American general at the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Yorktown, but 98 percent readily identified the profession of rapper Snoop Dogg.

How pitiful. How painful to see a younger generation, bit by bit, scrapping historical reference as part of their cultural literacy.

Knowing who we were is an important part of realizing who we are and what we can become. This quote sums it up: “People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.” That’s from Edmund Burke–a statesman, philosopher and real person.


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