Sir John Glubb remembers once visiting a school for mentally handicapped children:
“Our children do not have to take examinations,” the headmaster told me,” and so we are able to teach them things which will be really useful to them in life.”
That vignette comes up as he makes his plea that history should be the history of the human race, not of one small country or period:
The experiences of the human race have been recorded, in more or less detail, for some four thousand years. If we attempt to study such a period of time in as many countries as possible, we seem to discover the same patterns constantly repeated under widely differing conditions of climate, culture and religion. Surely, we ask ourselves, if we studied calmly and impartially the history of human institutions and development over these four thousand years, should we not reach conclusions which would assist to solve our problems today? For everything that is occurring around us has happened again and again before.
No such conception ever appears to have entered into the minds of our historians. In general, historical teaching in schools is limited to this small island. We endlessly mull over the Tudors and the Stewarts, the Battle of Crecy, and Guy Fawkes. Perhaps this narrowness is due to our examination system, which necessitates the careful de?nition of a syllabus which all children must observe.