by Carol Browne
|Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels|
Covid-19 is a game-changer in so many ways. It is making people rethink their lives, their jobs, their relationships, their aspirations, even their diets and the way they treat the planet they live on. The virus landed like a bolt out of the blue, illuminating the dark places in our lives and altering our perceptions. Many things that were thought of as important are now shown to be superficial and shallow. The way we structure our days has also come under intense scrutiny. Two areas of human activity in particular are undergoing a much-needed overhaul, and they are employment and education. People who can work from home during the lockdown can see the benefits of making this permanent. Meanwhile, many parents who have been home schooling their children are wondering if they should continue with it.
I was discussing this with a close friend of mine who has been working from home and is considering home schooling. She was concerned about peer pressure at the school one of her children attends and how it has had a detrimental effect on the child’s self-esteem. It is always hard to be different. It’s equally hard for an adult to do something different from what is considered normal. We often stick with the status quo for fear of being criticised. But, as the memes insist, the virus has shown us that normal wasn’t working. It’s time to create a new paradigm for living and my friend has seen the beneficial effects that home schooling has already had on both her children.
But this isn’t a blog about home schooling! When my friend and I were discussing different ways of educating her children, I reminded her of how we used to be taught history. We started as far back as the dinosaurs and moved forwards incrementally to the present day. As a result, I have had a mental image in my mind of every century down the ages with major events recorded on this timeline of history, so that I know where I am in the great scheme of things. I can see how mankind got to where it is today. It is like belonging to the timeline of humanity where everything makes sense, even the bad things, because wars have causes that can be traced back and great transitions, like the one we are experiencing now, can be anchored in time and better understood.
Do children still learn history this way? I meet so many young people who have no idea what happened before World War II (and don’t see the socio-economic and political factors that brought about that global conflict). Yes, they know about the Romans and perhaps the Ancient Egyptians but can’t pin them down to a particular era.
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And here in the UK how many of the people who are so proud to be British know anything about the history of the British Isles? Why do we use the words British and English; what’s the difference? We were a nation of immigrants long before the Roman occupation, during which time we really were British but not English. If everyone understood that we have all migrated here from other countries, would we rethink our current attitude to immigration? And if we knew more about our imperialist past with its horrors of slavery and oppression, would we see how racism developed and be better able to reject it?
Everything that happens is a lesson and the lessons of history will keep repeating on the timeline until we decide to take a stand and say no more. Only by understanding the timeline of the past can we see the need for change in the present. Allowing children to grow up without reference points or connections to ancestral knowledge, is not giving them freedom. It leaves them adrift in the modern world not knowing why things are the way they are. To teach children the lessons of history is to give them the tools they need to make their world a better place and create a brighter future.
History is important. In my book Being Krystyna – A Story of Survival in WWII I showed how intolerance for other people’s differences can lead to persecution and conflict. Krystyna herself always feared the Nazis would return, and looking at world events today I think she was right. One way to stop the resurgence of such evil is to make sure that the lessons of history are never forgotten. But first we have to learn them.
Here is a brief introduction to my book. Thank you for reading it.
It’s 2012, the year of the London Olympics, and for young Polish immigrant Agnieszka, visiting fellow countrywoman Krystyna in a Peterborough care home is a simple act of kindness. However, the meeting proves to be the beginning of a life-changing experience.
Krystyna’s stories about the past are not memories of the good old days but recollections of war-ravaged Europe: The Warsaw Ghetto, Pawiak Prison, Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, and the death march to freedom.
The losses and ordeals Krystyna suffered and what she had to do to survive, these are horrors Agnieszka must confront when she volunteers to be Krystyna’s biographer.
Will Agnieszka find a way to accomplish her task, and, in this harrowing story of survival, what is the message for us today?
About the Author:
Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol usually writes fiction and is a contracted author at Burning Willow Press. Being Krystyna, published by Dilliebooks on 11th November, 2016, is her first non-fiction book.