Every analysis of voting patterns for the 2016 ‘Brexit’ referendum, and for the December 2019 General Election, which was also about Brexit, reveals two major factors that seem to have determined people’s votes. The first is age, with the relatively young being significantly more likely to be pro-European than my generation. The second is level of education, with the better or longer educated more likely to be Europhile than the poorly educated. Oddly enough, Old Etonians seem to come within this latter category. That’s because it’s the quality of education that counts, not just the length. (I once wrote to the Head of History at Eton to ask him for a view of the modern history syllabus taught there, but received no reply.)
I’ve always in fact believed this, in contradistinction to the common ‘élitist’ view that the poorly educated voted for Brexit because they were stupid. In fact all the so-called ‘stupid’ ones required was to be taught properly. And in my view – as I’ve expressed once or twice in this blog – that requires a degree of education in logic, or clear, rational and above all critical thinking, which would enable them to see beyond and behind the propaganda they are fed in their media. History could provide this, if taught properly – that is, critically, not simply factually, or – God forbid – patriotically; but I’m sure there are other disciplines that could do it almost as well.
Here in Sweden I’m told that schoolchildren are taught källkritik, which is to go back to the sources of statements made before accepting them. That’s a start. In Finland they’ve gone one further. This article shows how children there are taught to spot ‘fake news’ when it’s presented to them: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/28/fact-from-fiction-finlands-new-lessons-in-combating-fake-news. Isn’t that wonderful? And couldn’t our UK schools, in a country where our print, broadcast and social media are some of the least reliable in the ‘free’ world, take a leaf out of the Finns’ book here?