Schoolchildren believe that Horatio Nelson captained French national football team
Children’s ignorance of British history has been laid bare in a survey today that shows one-in-20 pupils believe the Spanish Armada...
Children’s ignorance of British history has been laid bare in a survey today that shows one-in-20 pupils believe the Spanish Armada is a tapas dish.
Research carried out to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar shows many schoolchildren believe that Horatio Nelson was captain of the French national football team in the 1990s.
Almost one-in-four also said that ships evacuated British troops from Dover – not Dunkirk – during World War Two, Walter Raleigh invented the bicycle, Captain James Cook was the captain of the Starship Enterprise and Christopher Columbus discovered gravity.
The disclosure came in a study of 2,000 secondary school children in England to coincide with the anniversary of Admiral Lord Nelson’s defeat of the Spanish navy in 1805.
Children aged 12 to 16 were questioned about a series of key events in maritime history over the last 200 years.
Captain Mark Windsor, from the Sea Cadet Corps, said the poor answers highlighted the extent to which many children failed to connect with Britain’s maritime past.
"As an island nation our relationship with the sea is a critical one since much of our food and trade passes over the oceans and our place in the world largely stems from our maritime heritage,” he said.
"But it seems children are very confused when it comes to what key historical events occurred on the sea which helped shape the world in which we live.
"Horatio Nelson wouldn't be impressed to learn kids think he was a football captain and Columbus' discovery of America went completely unnoticed.
"By picking up a book, exploring the UK and getting involved with activities on the sea, children can become much more clued up."
National Trafalgar Day – on Thursday – celebrates 205 years since Admiral Lord Nelson's fleet defeated the combined might of the French and Spanish.
But according to the survey, carried out by the Sea Cadets, one-in-20 children believe the Spanish Armada is a tapas-style cuisine.
Three quarters did not know that Trafalgar Square was home to Nelson's Column, with eight per cent believing it was from EastEnders, while 15 per cent thought it was a shopping centre or chocolate biscuit.
One-in-six thought Sir Walter Raleigh was the brains behind the Chopper, not the adventurer responsible for bringing tobacco and potato back to our home shores.
Some 14 per cent said Captain Cook starred in Star Trek rather than commanding the Endeavour on the first voyage of discovery to Australia.
The report found six-in-10 youngsters did not know the Battle of Waterloo was fought in Belgium, with one-in-six opting for London's train station as their answer instead.
The disclosure comes two weeks after Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, announced a major review of the history curriculum in an attempt to revive interest in Britain’s “island story”.
The historian Simon Schama has been named as the Government’s new “history tsar” to lead the drive.
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