Please sir, can we just play on the computer instead?

I liked school. Some people didn’t, but I did. I think I was lucky that my schooling co-incided with the rise of computers within the workplace and home. I enjoyed the fact that I would learn traditional subjects like English, Maths and History (a personal favourite!) whilst also learning about new technologies. Pehaps things have come too far though? Schoolchildren are brought up with no idea of a world before computers and no idea of the types of lessons being taught. Like Civics.

That’s right. Civics. Within the collection at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery is an exercise book from Blackburn High School for girls where civics was taught as a lesson. The lessons helped a student understand every aspect of our political system, local and national, and how it affected us. Students would learn what the council chamber looked like and where each individual would sit.

How many children know the layout to the council chamber? In fact, how many adults know it?

They would learn what constituted an urban district, rural district, parish and borough. Who had the right to vote, who could stand in elections and the make up of the county and borough councils. The House of Commons and House of Lords were discussed. Including their origins and current regulations.

House of Commons

The Royal family would also be discussed during these lessons including the duties of the King, what happens in a coronation ceremony, a funeral ceremony and their privileges.

Now, I’m not sayign that all children should have to sit through a year of civics. Perhaps it would give them a sense of pride and understanding as to the complexities of the system and the strange origins of many of the functions. Perhaps it would inspire young people to follow a career in public service. It might, however, just bore them silly.


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Blackburn Museum can be found in Blackburn, Lancashire. It houses objects documenting Blackburn's industrial past as well as a world class collection of Fine Art, Japanese prints, Icons, Numismatics and Manuscripts. Come and visit us to find out more.

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