A reason to feel like an ignorant human being? Hmm well I know nothing of world history. There, I’ve said it. I can just about tell you about World War I and II (the reason I dropped History after Year 9 because I simply couldn’t take another lesson about Adolf Hitler), the Industrial Revolution, castles and the Battle of Hastings to name some thrilling secondary-school curriculum topics. In primary school we delved momentarily into the Victorians, Henry VIII and Ancient Greece and Rome… so I could cobble together some vague statement about Greek myths and legends probably. I’ve done a bit of Spanish history amongst A Level Spanish lessons so I could tell you about oppression during Franco’s dictatorship, the falled coup of Tejero and such. But, overall, my historical knowledge is pretty shocking. I’d say most of my historical knowledge has come from A Level Politics lessons (Thatcher and the Falklands, Vietnam War etc.) which is ironic when I consider what has prompted me to feel like an ignorant human being – my politics seminars.
Occassionally during such seminars we’ll momentarily delve into, what feels like to me, an obscure bit of European history. Turns out it’s not obscure but, as it didn’t fall under the remit of either World War lesson plans, I wasn’t taught it. I’m sorry, I know World War I and II was extremely influential and, please don’t mistake me, I’m not shitting on anything to do with the World Wars, I find the literature of the period (and literature about the period) really intriguing and emotional. I suppose this is why it is on the curriculum but I do think it’s damaging to students to place so much emphasis on it. You create a generation of students whose historical general knowledge consists of solely that; they’re blinkered, in a way. For me, it means I’ve reached the age of 19 with an astounding level of ignorance – seriously I feel stupid.
And it feels as though it’s too late really for me to ‘catch up’ and even if I did wish to catch up what could I do, read ‘The New Penguin History of the World’? Probably. But look at it, it’s hundreds of pages long and, frankly, it’s not a priority when I have reading to do for my actual university subjects. But I somehow feel as though I need to read it to help improve my general historical… awareness I suppose. Because I would probably find things like Spanish culture lectures more bearable if I could visualise a certain period in Spanish history against what was happening elsewhere in Europe or in the rest of the World. And I wouldn’t feel so pig ignorant when a politics seminar leader asks us about, bloody hell I don’t know, the French Revolution.
I suppose I just needed to let this out, knowing it has made me a bit irritated at/sick of myself as of late.
Edit: As proof of the ever-growing awesome of Hank and John Green (vlogbrothers on YouTube, if you don’t know them, shame on you), I feel the World History series on their new Crashcourse channel might just help me with my horrendously bad history knowledge. Thank you John Green, seriously.