Lesson in history

PUBLISHED: 11:58 07 February 2008 | UPDATED: 15:39 11 May 2010

It seems we really do not know anything about the legendary figures of our country. And it s quite appalling. In a survey this week it was revealed that people believed that the likes of Florence Nightingale and Sir Walter Raleigh and Gandhi didn t actual

It seems we really do not know anything about the legendary figures of our country.

And it's quite appalling.

In a survey this week it was revealed that people believed that the likes of Florence Nightingale and Sir Walter Raleigh and Gandhi didn't actually exist.

To make matters worse, a quarter of those who took part in the survey believed Winston Churchill was a mythical character.

That, of course, is the Winston Churchill who became Prime Minister and led the country through the darkest days of the Second World War.

And, believe it or not, there were some people out who were absolutely convinced that people such as Sherlock Holmes and Robinson Crusoe, and even Biggles, were real.

It says a lot about our lack of understanding of the past, and the people who played a key role in our history and the shaping of the country.

In a way, too, it shows a complete lack of respect for people who some may say were the real heroes of great moments in our history.

Certainly, Churchill as a war-time leader is seen as inspirational, and Wellington at Waterloo saved the nation.

But doesn't anyone care anymore?

History is important, and at times, we do not see a repeat of mistakes from the past because history tells us of our mistakes.

Certainly, it doesn't always happen that way, but there are lessons to be learned from the past.

Even now people in the United States - those in the White House and the Pentagon - are reading TE Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom in a bid to understand the workings of the Arab world.

They could learn much from history and Lawrence's desert campaign.

The survey suggested that it is mainly the under-20s who are lacking in historical awareness.

But, I suppose, anyone of that generation can recall the winners of those ridiculous television shows such as Big Brother and The X-Factor.

And that's more than I can do. But who cares?

Is it just due to ignorance or a lack of education?

Probably both play a part as the teaching of history these days seems to depend on events which are politically correct.

And that's the pity.

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