The rich mythology of British Liberty
John Robson, author of Magna Carta: Our Shared Legacy of Liberty, wrote a great essay in a recent edited volume, The 1867 Project: Why Canada Should Be Cherished – Not Cancelled, that has inspired me to re-examine some of my assumptions around teaching my kids history. Specifically, the history of Canada, and the story of our national ancestors – those who brought to the new world a set of traditions and principles that became cornerstones of all Western nations thereafter, just as those traditions and principals had previously been foundational to the enlightened order of England, where the story I’m most interested in today began.
Before we dive in, it is worth mentioning that the type of historical teaching I’m referring to doubles as a mechanism by which to transfer relevant cultural heritage. The cultural heritage tied to the Canadian nation begins in a much earlier period, in an entirely different place. Where exactly is best to begin the story is likely to be hotly debated, however, I’m sure it is generally recognized that the time and place Robson chose to highlight – the year 1215 in Runnymede, England (when King John reluctantly agreed to a charter of rights known as the Magna Carta) – is an extraordinarily consequential turning point in the history of humanity, and an eminently valid choice.
The process of transferring this important story, and the lessons it holds, cannot be relied upon solely by public institutions, nor can the general teaching of history. Parents must play an integral role and are in no way helpless victims against a cold and overly-bureaucratic education system that has decided to prioritize identity politics, with its diversity managerialism, over academic enrichment.
If our children had someone like Jim McMurtry to teach them history (without institutional constraints) we wouldn’t need to be as concerned. However, since Jim was essentially fired from a long and successful teaching career for transferring historically accurate facts about the Indian Residential School period to his students, parents have been waking up to the reality that something has gone terribly wrong in classrooms across the nation.