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Thread: Dunkirk

  1. #36
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    Default Re: Dunkirk

    The disparagement of Philip here is a bit over the top.

    I might add, BTW, that the immediate aftermath of Dunkirk was Churchill's personal finest hours. We are talking LEADERSHIP, folks.

    To to me the most intriguing question about Dunkirk is why Hitler paused. He could have crushed them in the Dunkirk pocket like a grape. Liddell Hart goes into it a bit in his book The German Generals Speak, but it remains an enigma.
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    Default Re: Dunkirk

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerarddm View Post
    The disparagement of Philip here is a bit over the top.

    I might add, BTW, that the immediate aftermath of Dunkirk was Churchill's personal finest hours. We are talking LEADERSHIP, folks.

    To to me the most intriguing question about Dunkirk is why Hitler paused. He could have crushed them in the Dunkirk pocket like a grape. Liddell Hart goes into it a bit in his book The German Generals Speak, but it remains an enigma.
    IIRC, Keegan gave a pretty good explanation of it. Goring wanted the glory of the final defeat of England to go the Luftwaffe and prevailed upon Hitler to let the Air Force stop the evacuation. On top of that Hitler did not see it as all that important, as he believed that England should not even be in the war, their efforts thus far were due to obsolete treaties. Once France was defeated, he felt sure "common sense" would prevail in England and they would sue for peace.

    And yes, the early of treatment of Philip on this thread was completely uncalled for.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    The causes are covered pretty well, IMO. Not that everyone learns them, but they are taught. I still remember my high school history teacher telling us that WWII started in 1933, not 1939, with the invasion of China. The growth in fascism, the problems with the Treaty of Versaille, etc are all taught. But the early war from the invasion of Poland until Pearl Harbor: I do believe it is completely glossed over. It was when I was a kid, and I think it still is. Few Americans realize the debt the western world owes to England for persevering so long by themselves. The evacuation at Dunkirk, the Attack on Mers-el-Kebir (I would wager less than 1% of Americans know that Britian destroyed most of the French fleet), the Battle of Britain, etc are largely ignored.
    There is another issue of relevance. In order to keep the US people on side, the government asked Hol;lywood to manufacture propaganda films.
    This was bough home by a Australian soap set in the immediate post war years, where one of the main characters went off on one after watching a film about a Pacific battle victory. The Hollywood film makers had written the Aussies out and replaced them with US Army, even though the US did not take part in that battle.
    So it is less surprising that the US folk memory of WWII is a tad biased and patchy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Pless View Post
    Mine own early education on Vietnam came from the documentary Platoon.

    My early education on the vietnam war was when the teenager next door never came back. I didn't go to the funeral but I knew what happened. I was probably 7 or 8 years old and teenagers seemed like grownups to us. He used to give my brother and me rides on his bicycle.

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    History as taught in American public schools was for a very long time skimpy propaganda that extolled American virtues and focused on memorizing dates, the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, Plymouth Rock and the Declaration of Independence. Causality, political upheaval, the flow of events, the nature of power and of personality, the winner's perspective and most especially how a real understanding of our history ties to current events was all subordinated to a misguided attempt to explain how we became the wonderful country that we are. History in America was for years the inculcation of patriotism rather than any real effort to teach study methods and the nature of men's frailty.

    Geography and history have traditionally been as poorly taught to Americans as are second languages. For years we created a rosy image that focused on dates and places rather than deep delving into facts and life on the ground. We nurtured strong attitudes on patriotism without supporting the inquisitive nature that is required for a true understanding of the flow of human events.

    I think it's fine that you inquire about Dunkirk Phillip but the real lesson in the event apart from the difficulty and horror of getting 350,00 people off a beach with inadequate transport is not to be found in the details of the battle itself. You'll need an understanding of European dynamics, geography, culture and history to understand how Dunkirk came to pass. You'll want a thorough knowledge of the nature of hubris at the top, of how the Franco Prussian war resonates through WWI and how WWI resonates on through to this day. And so much more.

    We do a very poor job of getting man's storyline straight in this country and the proof of that can be seen in our current situation.
    One of the most enduring qualities of an old wooden boat is the smell it imparts to your clothing.

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    That's the view this near-neighbour of your country has, Lew. Not polite for me to say, but you said it for me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phillip Allen View Post
    I find it strange that I am condemned for wanting to see another perspective of a WWII battle/escape...
    From Hollywood? All of a sudden your preferred source for facts and history is from those brie sipping liberals?

    Well then, I have a recommendation for you - Apocalypse Now as a treatise on the Vietnam war.

    LMAO
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    There is another issue of relevance. In order to keep the US people on side, the government asked Hol;lywood to manufacture propaganda films.
    This was bough home by a Australian soap set in the immediate post war years, where one of the main characters went off on one after watching a film about a Pacific battle victory. The Hollywood film makers had written the Aussies out and replaced them with US Army, even though the US did not take part in that battle.
    So it is less surprising that the US folk memory of WWII is a tad biased and patchy.
    Another brilliant 2017 movie, Their Finest, covered this theme. I highly recommend it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mmd View Post
    That's the view this near-neighbour of your country has, Lew. Not polite for me to say, but you said it for me.
    Maybe Lewis overstated it a tad, but I do not disagree with him. . I suspect the US is no worse along these lines than other countries. Actually pretty sure about that.

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    Default Re: Dunkirk

    I'm a history buff, and everything I know about Dunkirk was learned outside the classroom.

    Here in New England we get a lot of focus on the start of the revolution, I would bet that in Southern states there is more attention paid to other bits of our history.

    How much do you think the average Russian learns about Dunkirk? The movie will be a revelation in China, if they allow it to be shown at all.

    We should never be disparaging of a persons desire to learn, maybe especially when it's something we already know a lot about.
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    I know this will not go over well with our UK and Commonwealth friends, but the fact is that Dunkirk is not something that your average US High School student really needs to know about. For that matter, they also don't need to know the details of WWII battles that the US was heavily involved in such as the invasion of Normandy, Guadalcanal etc. High school students need to know the major points about why the war started, who was involved,the effects on US society and the implications for the post-war world. Beyond that, knowing a few important dates such as December 7th, June 6th and having general understanding of where the war was fought and when and how it ended are enough.

    The fact is that WWII is "ancient" history and like all ancient history, the specifics of battles and what happened on any particular day are much less important, and certainly less relevant than the large issues of the regional and global effects of the conflicts for anyone seeking a solid general education. As heroic as Dunkirk was, and as important it may still be to folks in the UK and Commonwealth, it really has no significance or importance to a US kid's general education - no more so than any other battle that took place outside of the US and in which the US had no role and was not affected by. Do kids in English schools learn the details of battles in the US Civil War? Does you average Australian know anything about the Battle of Gettysburg?

    This is not to imply that such things are unimportant or not worth studying in detail. They are, for some people. As part of a general education, though? Not really. It is entirely inappropriate to assume that the lack of knowledge about Dunkirk or almost any other historical event that had no significance for one's country is a sign of ignorance. If someone expresses a desire to learn more about such things, it should be commended rather than scorned.

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    Default Re: Dunkirk

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianY View Post
    I know this will not go over well with our UK and Commonwealth friends, but the fact is that Dunkirk is not something that your average US High School student really needs to know about. For that matter, they also don't need to know the details of WWII battles that the US was heavily involved in such as the invasion of Normandy, Guadalcanal etc. High school students need to know the major points about why the war started, who was involved,the effects on US society and the implications for the post-war world. Beyond that, knowing a few important dates such as December 7th, June 6th and having general understanding of where the war was fought and when and how it ended are enough.
    Not really that upset, isolationism and all that
    The bit that I emboldened is the most important bit, and takes a good teacher to put across.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    I mostly agree with your premise, BrianY; the why's, who's, impacts and results are more important history lessons than the specific dates and operational deployments. However, IMHO the battle of Dunkirk is important to peoples outside of Britain and the Commonwealth because of the insights it gives to the characters of the armies and nations involved, and for the influence its aftermath had on the remainder of the war. To ignore such an impactful battle is akin to the rest of the western world being ignorant of the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor. As major WWII battles go, Pearl Harbor wasn't much to speak of in terms of numbers involved, geography captured, numbers of casualties, but its impact on the remainder of the war was enormous.

    I firmly believe that history - especially modern history - has been mis-taught for several generations, ignoring complexities and interconnectivities in favour of simpler rote memorization of dates, places and battles.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianY View Post
    I know this will not go over well with our UK and Commonwealth friends, but the fact is that Dunkirk is not something that your average US High School student really needs to know about. For that matter, they also don't need to know the details of WWII battles that the US was heavily involved in such as the invasion of Normandy, Guadalcanal etc. High school students need to know the major points about why the war started, who was involved,the effects on US society and the implications for the post-war world. Beyond that, knowing a few important dates such as December 7th, June 6th and having general understanding of where the war was fought and when and how it ended are enough.

    The fact is that WWII is "ancient" history and like all ancient history, the specifics of battles and what happened on any particular day are much less important, and certainly less relevant than the large issues of the regional and global effects of the conflicts for anyone seeking a solid general education. As heroic as Dunkirk was, and as important it may still be to folks in the UK and Commonwealth, it really has no significance or importance to a US kid's general education - no more so than any other battle that took place outside of the US and in which the US had no role and was not affected by. Do kids in English schools learn the details of battles in the US Civil War? Does you average Australian know anything about the Battle of Gettysburg?

    This is not to imply that such things are unimportant or not worth studying in detail. They are, for some people. As part of a general education, though? Not really. It is entirely inappropriate to assume that the lack of knowledge about Dunkirk or almost any other historical event that had no significance for one's country is a sign of ignorance. If someone expresses a desire to learn more about such things, it should be commended rather than scorned.
    I strongly disagree.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    I strongly disagree.
    May one ask why?
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    May one ask why?
    Quote Originally Posted by BrianY
    I know this will not go over well with our UK and Commonwealth friends, but the fact is that Dunkirk is not something that your average US High School student really needs to know about. For that matter, they also don't need to know the details of WWII battles that the US was heavily involved in such as the invasion of Normandy, Guadalcanal etc. High school students need to know the major points about why the war started, who was involved,the effects on US society and the implications for the post-war world. Beyond that, knowing a few important dates such as December 7th, June 6th and having general understanding of where the war was fought and when and how it ended are enough.
    Only a few basic details of understanding where it was fought, when and how it ended is all students need to know? That is perhaps the most absurd statement I have seen in a while on this forum. One might as well say that history is just not an important topic for education of our young.

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianY
    The fact is that WWII is "ancient" history and like all ancient history, the specifics of battles and what happened on any particular day are much less important, and certainly less relevant than the large issues of the regional and global effects of the conflicts for anyone seeking a solid general education.
    It is not ancient history. And I am not for sure which conflicts Brian is referring to that are relevant, but since one cannot understand the effects of WWII without understanding a more detailed picture of the war than Brian presented in paragraph 1, it obviously is not relevant. Although its effects are still with us today.

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianY
    This is not to imply that such things are unimportant or not worth studying in detail. They are, for some people. As part of a general education, though? Not really. It is entirely inappropriate to assume that the lack of knowledge about Dunkirk or almost any other historical event that had no significance for one's country is a sign of ignorance. If someone expresses a desire to learn more about such things, it should be commended rather than scorned.
    The idea that Dunkirk had no significance on US history is utterly absurd. If the evacuation of Dunkirk did not occur, it is likely England would have sought a peace settlement with Europe. Nazi hegemony over western Europe would have been assured. How is that not significant?

    The more I think about it, the more I think BrianY's post is an embarrassment. He should be ridiculed, not Philip for simply admitting he needed to know more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    Only a few basic details of understanding where it was fought, when and how it ended is all students need to know? That is perhaps the most absurd statement I have seen in a while on this forum. One might as well say that history is just not an important topic for education of our young.
    How much time would you allot, in high school, to spend studying WWII?
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    There are few films I insist we see in a theatre (theatres being full of boorish imbeciles) nonetheless Dunkirk is one of them. My wife, a retired teacher, will have no clue what the film is about until she sees it. Me? A former unmotivated student in all subjects except drafting and military history? Well, Dunkirk represents one small element of the romance of a lifelong interest in small boats, and one reason that after a lifetime of sailing, we got an old, small but weatherly, diesel motor cruiser, one capable of having taken part in that rescue, had they been built at that back.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianW View Post
    Don't feel alone Phillip, I don't know much about the Battle of Dunkirk either.
    I already know more than I did since I looked up some stuff on it
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeterSibley View Post
    School merely lays out the bones on which we build our knowledge Phillip.
    My school history studies were NZ and Australia obviously
    European Economic
    Europe since Napoleon
    Nth Asian
    Ancient ME, Egypt, and Greece. No Rome.

    Those were the bones on which I built.
    exactly
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Some of us had relatives that were there.
    It was so important that there is an annual celebration where the surviving Little Ships sail across. There are history documentaries on it.
    If your school education includes WWII it is a vital component of the story. However, I can see why the US might not bother with it and teach Pearl Harbour instead.

    I do hope that this film does not turn out to be another "Shaving Ryan's Privates".
    I intend to go armed with some study of the event(s)
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    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    The causes are covered pretty well, IMO. Not that everyone learns them, but they are taught. I still remember my high school history teacher telling us that WWII started in 1933, not 1939, with the invasion of China. The growth in fascism, the problems with the Treaty of Versaille, etc are all taught. But the early war from the invasion of Poland until Pearl Harbor: I do believe it is completely glossed over. It was when I was a kid, and I think it still is. Few Americans realize the debt the western world owes to England for persevering so long by themselves. The evacuation at Dunkirk, the Attack on Mers-el-Kebir (I would wager less than 1% of Americans know that Britian destroyed most of the French fleet), the Battle of Britain, etc are largely ignored.

    Its a pity, I do believe we are all in debt to Britain for the early part of the war, and it is to our shame that we were not willing to step in sooner and fight what is perhaps history's the ultimate just war.
    since my granddaughter moved in when she was 17, I have been going over much of my history. she seems marginally interested and has learned a lot from her infatuation with the Broadway 'Hamilton'. it would be easy to argue that that certainly isn't much but its more than a lot of kids have learned... education is where you get it...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lew Barrett View Post
    History as taught in American public schools was for a very long time skimpy propaganda that extolled American virtues and focused on memorizing dates, the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, Plymouth Rock and the Declaration of Independence. Causality, political upheaval, the flow of events, the nature of power and of personality, the winner's perspective and most especially how a real understanding of our history ties to current events was all subordinated to a misguided attempt to explain how we became the wonderful country that we are. History in America was for years the inculcation of patriotism rather than any real effort to teach study methods and the nature of men's frailty.

    Geography and history have traditionally been as poorly taught to Americans as are second languages. For years we created a rosy image that focused on dates and places rather than deep delving into facts and life on the ground. We nurtured strong attitudes on patriotism without supporting the inquisitive nature that is required for a true understanding of the flow of human events.

    I think it's fine that you inquire about Dunkirk Phillip but the real lesson in the event apart from the difficulty and horror of getting 350,00 people off a beach with inadequate transport is not to be found in the details of the battle itself. You'll need an understanding of European dynamics, geography, culture and history to understand how Dunkirk came to pass. You'll want a thorough knowledge of the nature of hubris at the top, of how the Franco Prussian war resonates through WWI and how WWI resonates on through to this day. And so much more.

    We do a very poor job of getting man's storyline straight in this country and the proof of that can be seen in our current situation.
    agreed and understood
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Not really that upset, isolationism and all that
    The bit that I emboldened is the most important bit, and takes a good teacher to put across.
    I would like to know more about our policy of isolationism... for instance
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmd View Post
    I mostly agree with your premise, BrianY; the why's, who's, impacts and results are more important history lessons than the specific dates and operational deployments. However, IMHO the battle of Dunkirk is important to peoples outside of Britain and the Commonwealth because of the insights it gives to the characters of the armies and nations involved, and for the influence its aftermath had on the remainder of the war. To ignore such an impactful battle is akin to the rest of the western world being ignorant of the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor. As major WWII battles go, Pearl Harbor wasn't much to speak of in terms of numbers involved, geography captured, numbers of casualties, but its impact on the remainder of the war was enormous.

    I firmly believe that history - especially modern history - has been mis-taught for several generations, ignoring complexities and interconnectivities in favour of simpler rote memorization of dates, places and battles.
    thanks
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    ^ Isolationism is inbred in the US. It is a function of how big the country is, how vast the internal opportunities are, and how rich in natural resources. With all the plethora of good fortune, it lessens the need to look elsewhere and to engage with elsewhere. In the 20th century, America had been deeply scarred by the horror of the Civil War casualty lists, and, given the European propensity for internal wars going back to the Dark Ages, a quite large portion of the American populace wanted nothing to do with " European " wars, especially given the moats of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. An innocent time worldview, no longer possible, though some recidivists may yearn for it. Remember, it took quite a string of provocations to drag the US into the Great War, and THAT experience meant that FDR had to walk a very delicate line preparing the US for entry into WWII.

    Of course, nowadays we are like the imperial Romans, seemingly compelled to go out every year and kill someone.
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    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    If the evacuation of Dunkirk did not occur, it is likely England would have sought a peace settlement with Europe. Nazi hegemony over western Europe would have been assured. How is that not significant?
    It is significant to the overall story of the war and as such, a mention of the evacuation and its importance had it not succeeded is meaningful in understanding the overall significance and impact of the war. It is not, however, necessary, to examine and study the operation in any great detail to achieve that understanding. In fact, a few sentences such as you wrote above is sufficient to put the operation in its proper context. Likewise, the taking of Guadalcanal as the first significant operation in the effort to defeat Japan does not need to be studied in great detail for someone to gain a general understanding and background (and after all that what's history education in grade schools and high schools is) of the course of war.

    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    The more I think about it, the more I think BrianY's post is an embarrassment. He should be ridiculed, not Philip for simply admitting he needed to know more.
    In my defense, I'm acknowledging the reality that schools do not have time to teach history in depth. My kids went to a highly rated public school and they spent a total of one week (three classes plus homework) on WWII because that's all the time that was available. Remember, pre-college history classes are necessarily designed to be introductory rather than in-depth. Faced with that reality, if you were a teacher designing your class curriculum (remember, you have to teach subjects that are going to be on standardized tests in much greater detail than subjects that won't be on those tests and specifics about WWII battles and operations are not part of those tests) would you choose to spend more than a minute or two on Dunkirk? If so, what other significant events in WWII would you choose to overlook so that you could spend time on Dunkirk?

    One could, for example, argue that the Battle for the Atlantic and the near-defeat of the allied merchant shipping effort to keep England supplied with food and war materials by German U Boats was more of a threat to the survival of England and the subsequent dire consequences for Europe than the loss of the soldiers at Dunkirk. Perhaps. Perhaps not, but at the very least, that battle and the way that the allies eventually overcame the German offensive is as at least as significant and important to outcome of the war. Would it really be meaningful and important for school kids to learn the details of convoy organization and operations and anti-submarine strategies and technology?
    Last edited by BrianY; 07-11-2017 at 01:45 PM.

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    Default Re: Dunkirk

    I think, Brian, and with all respect, that you have described what is wrong with modern history education at the high school level, both in the USA and (to a lesser amount, because most provinces do not have standardized testing) here in Canada. Teaching to perform on a standardized test, not teaching to a proscribed level of general knowledge, has been shown to limit knowledge retention among students. (My wife was a high school teacher for 35 years, so I lived this vicariously for much too long.) Teaching history as a series of dates and battles and principal players' names to be memorized instead of teaching the flow and consequences of history loses the whole point of learning from history and merely instills a sparse few facts from the historical record. In other words, that method teaches kids to memorize what they need to remember for the test, to be discarded from memory shortly afterwards, without teaching - or better yet, teaching students to realize for themselves - the wisdom to be gained from learning about history.

    In other words, the question on the test should not be, "On what date and where did the USA invade France in WWII"; but rather, "What events led up to the invasion of France in WWII, and why were these significant?"
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmd View Post

    I firmly believe that history - especially modern history - has been mis-taught for several generations, ignoring complexities and interconnectivities in favour of simpler rote memorization of dates, places and battles.
    Yes, to some extent. Much depends on what era of history you're talking about and where you happen to be. For example, my kids spent HUGE amounts of time learning colonial era, revolutionary war, era and post- revolution era US history in great detail and have a pretty good in-depth understanding of the why's and wherefore's of what lead to the Revolution and the developments that led to the creation of the constitution and the establishment of the nation. Of course, I live in eastern Massachusetts and lot of this colonial - Revolution stuff happened right here so it's a big part of our culture. The Vietnam War? Not so much. I mean, they were aware of it, but primarily in the context of the social upheaval of the 1960's and 70's.

    As my dad used to say, the problem with learning history is that there's more of it every year. How schools cover it in general education settings is very challenging. The best they can do is give a good basic overview of the most significant events with some in-depth examination of why they happened and hopefully inspire some students to go on to learn more in detail in college and afterwards about times and events they find particularly interesting.

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  30. #65
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    Default Re: Dunkirk

    Quote Originally Posted by mmd View Post
    I think, Brian, and with all respect, that you have described what is wrong with modern history education at the high school level, both in the USA and (to a lesser amount, because most provinces do not have standardized testing) here in Canada. Teaching to perform on a standardized test, not teaching to a proscribed level of general knowledge, has been shown to limit knowledge retention among students. (My wife was a high school teacher for 35 years, so I lived this vicariously for much too long.) Teaching history as a series of dates and battles and principal players' names to be memorized instead of teaching the flow and consequences of history loses the whole point of learning from history and merely instills a sparse few facts from the historical record. In other words, that method teaches kids to memorize what they need to remember for the test, to be discarded from memory shortly afterwards, without teaching - or better yet, teaching students to realize for themselves - the wisdom to be gained from learning about history.

    In other words, the question on the test should not be, "On what date and where did the USA invade France in WWII"; but rather, "What events led up to the invasion of France in WWII, and why were these significant?"
    Again I agree. But this is the educational system that the general public wants. The general public wants standardized testing so that schools and teachers can be held accountable, learning can be measured and evaluated, etc. Teaching to the test is the inevitable consequence of that desire. Here in Massachusetts, the public schools are continuing to get away from names and dates and more into the why's and what if's, but I don't think that is happening everywhere.

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    Default Re: Dunkirk

    An excellent example of regional bias in history curriculum, Brian. Your kids spent a HUGE amount of time learning Colonial War history; which is obviously important to the narrative of how your country came into being, but only three classes to learn about WWII, which has had an enormous impact in shaping the modern USA - the modern armed forces, how the USA became a world power, the creation of the Cold War, etc. Forgive me for any unintended insult, but that is precisely what we non-Americans see as a fault in the USA - too much looking inwards at yourselves and not enough looking outwards at the rest of the world and observing how you fit into it.
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    Default Re: Dunkirk

    I think it's inspiring to know about those little boats, the 101st at Bastogne, Pegasus Bridge or Nicholson on the Kwai. If you grew up watching Victory At Sea and The World At War you learned a lot.

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    Default Re: Dunkirk

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianY View Post
    I know this will not go over well with our UK and Commonwealth friends, but the fact is that Dunkirk is not something that your average US High School student really needs to know about. For that matter, they also don't need to know the details of WWII battles that the US was heavily involved in such as the invasion of Normandy, Guadalcanal etc. High school students need to know the major points about why the war started, who was involved,the effects on US society and the implications for the post-war world. Beyond that, knowing a few important dates such as December 7th, June 6th and having general understanding of where the war was fought and when and how it ended are enough.
    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    Only a few basic details of understanding where it was fought, when and how it ended is all students need to know? That is perhaps the most absurd statement I have seen in a while on this forum. One might as well say that history is just not an important topic for education of our young.
    I think that you miss the point. The bit I have emboldened is the key, the rest is discussing the padding surrounding the entire story.
    The fact is that WWII is "ancient" history and like all ancient history, the specifics of battles and what happened on any particular day are much less important, and certainly less relevant than the large issues of the regional and global effects of the conflicts for anyone seeking a solid general education. As heroic as Dunkirk was, and as important it may still be to folks in the UK and Commonwealth, it really has no significance or importance to a US kid's general education - no more so than any other battle that took place outside of the US and in which the US had no role and was not affected by. Do kids in English schools learn the details of battles in the US Civil War? Does you average Australian know anything about the Battle of Gettysburg?
    It is not ancient history. And I am not for sure which conflicts Brian is referring to that are relevant, but since one cannot understand the effects of WWII without understanding a more detailed picture of the war than Brian presented in paragraph 1, it obviously is not relevant. Although its effects are still with us today.
    You miss the " ", and to a young school kid, two generations removed it is "Ancient" Again the bit I emboldened is key, I tend to agree that the rest of the post, less so.
    This is not to imply that such things are unimportant or not worth studying in detail. They are, for some people. As part of a general education, though? Not really. It is entirely inappropriate to assume that the lack of knowledge about Dunkirk or almost any other historical event that had no significance for one's country is a sign of ignorance. If someone expresses a desire to learn more about such things, it should be commended rather than scorned.



    The idea that Dunkirk had no significance on US history is utterly absurd. If the evacuation of Dunkirk did not occur, it is likely England would have sought a peace settlement with Europe. Nazi hegemony over western Europe would have been assured. How is that not significant?

    The more I think about it, the more I think BrianY's post is an embarrassment. He should be ridiculed, not Philip for simply admitting he needed to know more.
    This is true, however as Brian stated above, it is the context and consequences that are key, not how many got away, how many died in Dunkirk and how many were captured.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Dunkirk

    Quote Originally Posted by mmd View Post
    An excellent example of regional bias in history curriculum, Brian. Your kids spent a HUGE amount of time learning Colonial War history; which is obviously important to the narrative of how your country came into being, but only three classes to learn about WWII, which has had an enormous impact in shaping the modern USA - the modern armed forces, how the USA became a world power, the creation of the Cold War, etc. Forgive me for any unintended insult, but that is precisely what we non-Americans see as a fault in the USA - too much looking inwards at yourselves and not enough looking outwards at the rest of the world and observing how you fit into it.
    Again, no argument from me. I was dismayed at how much time they spent on colonial history and how little time on the 20th century.

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    Default Re: Dunkirk

    If anyone is interested in history - and the process by which it comes into being - the recent series of Reith Lectures by Hilary Mantel are worth listening to.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007...odes/downloads
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