Create a school syllabus that teaches about the British Empire in a truthful way.
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Recent polls have shown that most British people believe that the British Empire is something to be proud of, and almost half believe that the countries who were colonised by Britain are better off now as a result. These results show that as a country we have failed to face up to the truths of Empire, and have either ignored, or embellished, the realities of British Imperialism.
The fact is, that the British Empire reaped ruin over much of the world; The British enforced slavery, facilitated famines, tortured indigenous peoples in concentration camps, and massacred those who dared to protest them. Deceitful British governments of the past were involved in the mass destruction of records which detailed such atrocities, and so committed the country to decades of ignorance.
Future generations deserve to know about the uncomfortable truths of Empire, and how Britain was largely built from plunder and slavery at the expense of colonised countries. Not engaging in our history in a responsible and honest way allows the jingoist, xenophobic, and racist fervours that fuelled empire to flourish. And an Education system which is unprepared to confront such realities does a disservice to us all, and merely acts as a propaganda machine to romanticise the darker aspects of our past.
History repeats itself when we have a warped view of it, and a patriotic pride linked to our imperial past is a dangerous thing, and unfortunate, considering just how much of our history we should be proud of. So, I call upon parliament to reconsider how we confront the past in our schools; A history syllabus which teaches a broad overview of British colonialism across continents, and one which addresses the disastrous consequences for these territories, would be a key step in addressing Britain’s ‘historical amnesia’ so that we can truly embrace, and then move on from our past.
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