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Is History Important For Social Cohesion?

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1. Posted by Wocca (Inactive 3745 posts) 11y

Should history be a compulsory subject at schools in your own country?

2. Posted by WeeJoe (Respected Member 336 posts) 11y

Its only my opinion, but yes i think Irish history should be taught in Irish schools as its necessary if we want our children to have a cultural identity, to know what people had to go through to provide them with the opportunities that they would otherwise take for granted. Its wonderful to witness other cultures and traditions and we can all learn so much from others, so i reckon it is vitally important to avoid absolute cultural homogenisation. How boring would that be?

However, the flipside of this is that awareness of cultural history can sometimes perpetuate friction between rival communities because of the volatile nature of their previous co-existence. I'm thinking of the north of Ireland where i come from when i say this, but it can be applied to so many areas and so many communities worldwide, mostly in places that never make headlines.

This is definitely one for Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim to argue over, but ive always liked Marx and i think social order does come from conflict, whether we like it or not.

Sorry about the roundabout way of answering the question, i suppose a simple 'yes' wouldve done.

3. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 11y

I was thinking of how to put it, and you've just said it all there really Joe.

4. Posted by Rraven (Travel Guru 5924 posts) 11y

Quoting WeeJoe

However, the flipside of this is that awareness of cultural history can sometimes perpetuate friction between rival communities because of the volatile nature of their previous co-existence. I'm thinking of the north of Ireland where i come from when i say this, but it can be applied to so many areas and so many communities worldwide, mostly in places that never make headlines.

I agree but we also have to trust that with education that we learn from previous mistakes....

5. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 11y

Very briefly, it should, but it should be "neutral" (i.e. so you form your own opinions about things) and to begin with, i think it should be more recent/useful history if that makes sense.

I did history for only 2 years, and although it was very interesting, learning about the Tudors/Stuarts/Egyptians etc isn't really all that useful on a daily basis - things like Social history, British history(in British schools) with politics/monarchy etc, European history i.e. history/reasons behind the EEC, EC and now EU, the rise and fall of communism, Berlin wall, Yugoslavia, Reggy Perin and the USSR, plus immigration (i.e. from caribbean in the 60s) is still of recent interest/relevnce to our lives and i think that's more important to be taught first, and at a younger age before we are corrupted fully by media etc.

Also, although its had no other impact on my life and never will, i was scared after a conversation one night with one of my neighbours in Sweden (similar age to me), who could recite all the British monarchs in order from 1066ish plus all Prime Ministers, and give a brief overview of what they did! They learn it all as part of their European history, but we didn't even though it was our past.
I doubt i'd be able to name more than half, let alone in order, and as for knowing exact years or having the faintest idea what they did.... It hasn't really affected my life, but its scary what other people learn about us, when we know so little about ourselves, let alone them.

6. Posted by Rraven (Travel Guru 5924 posts) 11y

Quoting Gelli

... It hasn't really affected my life, but its scary what other people learn about us, when we know so little about ourselves, let alone them.

I know exactly what you mean, I've spoken to various people from various cultures and it can be both scary and embarressing when foreigners know more about your history / culture but at the same time I have found that in some cases they didn't learn it in school but researched what interests them......

7. Posted by WeeJoe (Respected Member 336 posts) 11y

To teach history in a neutral manner seems like a logistical impossibility in many cases.

Granted, Ancient Egypt and anthropological studies could be neutral, but most history taught (in Europe anyway) is about conflict. I cant see how stories of oppression can be taught without drawing conclusions on Rights and Wrongs simply by the implicit rhetoric of any report or source. Nor do i regard this as a bad thing, history is our only guide to a better future and it is important that we all learn from previous mistakes. The anniversary of the liberation of Auswitz took place last week which highlighted the pertinence of this need.

8. Posted by Danielsw25 (Budding Member 50 posts) 11y

I dont have a problem learning about it. What really irks me is that I had to learn it in grade school (0-8), high school (9-12), and now I have to learn it AGAIN in college!@#@ I hate people forcing me to learn things id rather not just for a stupid piece of paper that says I paid a bunch of money and worked my butt of for...a piece of paper!

Adding to that America (to me) has about the most boring history in the world (being about what...all of 229 years old). Give me some good ol melee slaughter of millions of ancient warriors in the Persian wars anyday lol.

As far as this country goes though...I am split. Learning about our history shows people what our country is SUPPOSED to stand for. On the flip side, it continually brings up all the old hatreds and never lets them die. Sadly I think America is on the downward slide. I figure the only way to rectify it is for me to take over. So when I hit 35, there will be a big change! I seriously think we need to revamp our foreign policy. That is one lesson we dont seem to be learning too well. Pre-WW2, we were isolated and stayed to ourselves. Now we are acting as though we dont need anyone and I find that to be horrible. It feels like we alienate someone every day. I mean seriously....freedom fries?! (if you didnt know, Bush and the patriotic masses started calling french fries, french toast, etc. freedom fries, freedom toast... when France denounced our invasion of Iraq). We do have vast potential to do amazing things with all the power we wield, but seem to throw it all away. Just my ramblings..I have my history class later tonight and I DONT want to go..so im a lil heated

Fae

9. Posted by mtlchica (Respected Member 922 posts) 11y

I think people need history to understand where they are and where they are going. I think how we have it in Canada is great. We have three classes in high school - one about early civilizations (Rome, Egypt etc), one about Canada, and one about 20th century world history. We had to take western civilization in college again (well, those of us in certain programs anyways), and if we wanted to take more it was an option.

I personally love history. If I had the oppurtunity to take some history classes in university, I definately would have done so. Although I must admit Canadian history can be a bit of a snooze sometimes, it still is interesting, especially the more modern stuff.

Do I think the teaching of history is biased? It could be. Especially in places where they have a very "Ra! Ra!" attitude towards their country (The U.S. comes to mind first, but every country has their own biases). Also in places where there is authoritarian rule or very little democracy where books and the press are under the watchful eye of the government. It makes me think of 1984 by George Orwell, where the government makes it so history is altered or erased based on the mood of the government that day. Very scary actually, how there are actual countries that are practising that as we speak.

The way history is taugh here, at least in my experiences, it doesn't seem too biased. My teachers usually leave topics option to discussion. One of my teachers in college used to say that history itself is objective because you can't dispute the actual events that happened, but it's interpretation is subjective because everyone is coming from a different point of view.

Ok, that's my two cents!

Cheers,
Katie ;)

10. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 11y

Even history taught here seems to be biased. Compare history taught in a French school to that taught in an English school, and you get a very different sense of who was exploited, who took what from whom, who won which war and why, etc. etc.

I read Bill Bryson's "Made in America" and couldn't believe how much of American history is actually ficton written way after the fact to showcase Americans in a better light. But then again, maybe Bill Bryson is biased!

Even writing down an event to explain it entails a certain amount of subjectivity. There's a difference between "the (country) soldiers bravely fought and won the war" and "the (country) soldiers - dispite a brave effort by their counterattackers - nonetheless won the war."

I've now forgotten the original question.