OTHER countries have interesting history. In Britain, the best you get is a man in a crown dying in a muddy field in Leicestershire. And these greatest hits:
The Great Fire of London
Sounds exciting, but in reality all anyone can remember from the teacher’s drone is that it started at a bakery and Samuel Pepys buried a cheese. Why would you remember anything else when the lesson was a wordsearch for ‘thatched roof’ and a dot-to-dot of a ruined family home?
Henry VIII’s wives
We get it, the guy shagged. A lot, including sisters. But that’s hardly thrilling to teenagers raised on the good seasons of Love Island. And what else did he do? Ah, a fortnight of lessons examining the power structure of the Catholic church. At which point, like when they endlessly dissect it in Love Island, even the shagging’s dull.
The Corn Laws
Pivotal in making British democracy subservient to the will of the people rather than an aristocratic few, the repeal of the Corn Laws was an epochal moment for our country. Except even the thickest GCSE student is well aware we’re still ruled for the benefit of an aristocratic few, so it’s clearly history not worth f**king learning.
The Gunpowder Plot
Exciting hypothetically. Largely about what could have happened and why – religion again – before a brief and gratifyingly graphic discussion of Stuart-era tortures and where the various plotters’ heads ended up. Asking a class of nine-year-olds about capital punishment for terrorists certainly sparks lively drawings.
The origins of World War I
There’s a valuable lesson in here somewhere about how we can avoid escalation to violence, but the endless listing of alliances and back-and-forths and the September Memorandum makes it as fascinating as a teenager’s TikTok account of the drama about what Ashleigh said to Jenna at lunch.
Three-field crop rotation
The pièce de résistance. Not a hint of violence or shagging, just different types of soil and beige crops over and over again, like a particularly unsexy episode of Countryfile. There’s not even any chance of the creaky telly being wheeled out for this one. Just remember wheat, beans, fallow, whatever.