History isn’t “horrible”, it’s essential….!

Richard III – from ‘Horrible Histories’

“…Imagine knowing the entire list of British monarchs by heart at age 10. Imagine knowing about cavemen courting rituals or what soldiers ate during World War I. Imagine becoming so invested in the life of the infamous King Richard III of England that you joined the Richard III Society, a group dedicated to finding his bones and solving the mystery of what happened to his nephews over 500 years ago…”

The extract above is from this study breaks article which, as you might guess, is all about ‘Horrible Histories’!

It made me think, because I did know my English/British monarchs by the age of 10…by 8/9 in fact. There was a chart on my bedroom wall and it faced me when I sat up in bed. I noticed Richard III even then, because he was so different from the rest. Slender, dark-haired, troubled…or so it seemed to me. The other kings/queens seemed more or less expressionless (except for Henry VII, who looked out of the chart in that rather crafty, sideways manner we know and love so well!)

A present-day friend tells me: “There was a frieze over my classroom door { at the same age} with them all on from Alfred, including the years. I did the research and writing, although none of us could reach where it was placed.”

There’s no doubt that history lessons used to entail knowing our stuff. Nowadays, it seems, they’re taught that the world didn’t exist before World War I. Medieval? What the heck is that? So, the likes of ‘Horrible Histories’ are to be welcomed, because they introduce modern children to the past. It’s their past, after all. They should know how their country developed to become what it is today…and realise that it wasn’t a process that came into being magically in the year 1900!

PS: And if help is needed to remember history and its facts, then there’s nothing better than a good song. So try this one.



  1. Reblogged this on WordyNerdBird and commented:
    While I agree that, in many places, history is taught differently and with a much more recent focus than in previous years, there are places where a broad spectrum of history is taught well.

    In Victoria, Australia, the history curriculum includes the study of ancient, medieval and modern civilisations and the events that shaped and defined them. By the time students at my school finish their compulsory education at the end of Year 10, for example, they will have studied Ancient Egypt, Israel and Bablylon, medieval civilisations in Europe and Asia, the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, both World Wars, the Civil Rights Movements in the US and Australia, and various elements of life in 20th Century Australia.

    Like the author of this post, I am passionate about history, and I strive to make it interesting, relevant and engaging for my students. My interactions and experience with other teachers of the Humanities leads me to believe that this is true of most. We may all have different areas of particular interest and expertise, but we have a common goal: to inspire and teach so that students have an awareness of where we’ve come from, how far we’ve come, and how to apply that knowledge so that we avoid repeating the mistakes of the past in the future.

    I’ve used Horrible Histories both as a starting point and for extending and highlighting my teaching. The songs are great and the books are entertaining, helping to make the distant past memorable and interesting.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I know it’s a long time ago now, but all I remember learning in history in school is: the Romans, some things about serfdom and how fields were divided into grazing and arable land, and then about Queen Victoria and her many descendants, and all that led to, etc.
    I first read about Richard lll when I was 10 years old and in hospital. Someone (can’t remember who!) gave me the book Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey to read, which was about him, and I was hooked.
    I’ve learned so much more about history since I left school, but I suppose that’s because I’ve looked into and researched the things I’m really interested in!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t think I was ever taught much about the middle ages except at primary school. Even that was misleading, as it was mostly about the earlier years of the MA, which were notably different to the 14th and 15th centuries.

    What I learned at secondary school was just a minimal briefing on the era, with (effectively) lots of Shakespeare. Nothing in depth at all. I had to teach myself that, by means of “extensive reading”.

    I have always been drawn to the 14th and 15th centuries, and have always been most comfortable with the Yorks. No idea why, just is.


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