Why did Bill Gates give $10million to history teacher David Christian? | September 2014

Why did Bill Gates give $10million to history teacher David Christian?

Published: 22nd September 2014 
The Times

There's a pretty good argument for saying that while Bill Gates may be the richest person in the world, the most powerful person in the world is an affable historian called David Christian. The argument goes like this: Gates and Christian know each other. They get along and they share Christian's take on the history of the Universe. Gates is using his unfathomably large fortune to help Christian disseminate this version of history to schools in America, Australia, Korea, the Netherlands and now Britain. And, as Confucius say, he who controls the past controls the future.

Christian doesn't look like a Time Lord and unlike Gates he doesn't have his days divided into five-minute segments like a head of state's. He looks like an uncle. He wears a fleece even though it's a balmy Indian summer's day. He meets me at the Oxford college where he's staying for a few days and we go to his "cell" (an apt description) to talk at leisure about asteroids, dinosaurs and the Big Bang. "I think it's absolutely essential that everyone has a preliminary grip on the idea of the Big Bang [among many other things] as a teacher I can do that," he says. As a history teacher, mind you.

It's been said often in the past few weeks that Christian is Gates's favourite historian, but this isn't strictly true. He's Gates's favourite Big Historian, and Big History is the study of history on such unimaginably large timescales that it ends up being at least as much about science as people.

This may be one reason why Gates likes it. When they meet up, as they do from time to time, "it's just great nerdy conversation", Christian says. But the other reason Gates likes Big History is that it brings together everything we know, or think we know, or hope we know, in one all-encompassing story. This is something that Christian thinks is missing from modern secular education at huge cost to our children's understanding of the modern world, never mind the ancient one, and it's something Gates wishes he was taught way back in high school.

Read the full article on The Times Website.