Make children memorise dates, says TV historian David Starkey

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Schools are producing illiterate and uncommunicative children, he tells conference of private school heads.

The TV historian David Starkey today called for schools to bring back memorising dates, elocution and grammar lessons, and public-speaking competitions.

The 64-year-old expert on the Tudor period said education had been "taken over by bean counters" and schools were producing illiterate and uncommunicative children.

He said that in the early 16th century, the young Henry VIII learned Latin grammar at five and a half and was expected to be fluent in the language by 10.

The historian criticised the school history curriculum for no longer making it necessary for pupils to memorise dates. "You might as well set them detective novels rather than history. It becomes a comprehension exercise," he said.

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