Why don’t today’s children know more about history? In an age when information has never been easier to access, it’s alarming how many youngsters are ignorant about the past. In July, a survey of 1,000 schoolchildren found that four out of ten had no idea what the Battle of Britain was, while another four out of ten had never heard of Cleopatra. More than half didn’t know the Romans spoke Latin.
Of course every generation complains that children are ignorant of facts that we used to take for granted. Often it’s simply a question of changing priorities: where children once learned about Walpole and Gladstone, they now learn about the suffragettes and American civil rights. Even so, despite the success of Horrible Histories, you’d have to be wilfully blind to deny that history itself has rarely seemed so embattled.