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Thread: History...... What we should know

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    Senior Member Pheasy's Avatar
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    Question History...... What we should know

    I was amazed when first coming to the US on how, many Americans (based on where I live) know very little about other countries. It's only since having my children at school here, that I realised, its because they teach nothing about other countries in school. Surely the history of other countries, gives you a greater understanding of a multitude of issues and opportunities.

    Why is this?

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    Senior Member pinkchick's Avatar
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    Re: History...... What we should know

    Quote Originally Posted by ThePheasant View Post
    I was amazed when first coming to the US on how the average American (based on where I live) knows very little about other countries. It's only since having my children at school here, that I realised, its because they teach nothing about other countries in school. Surely the history of other countries, gives you a greater understanding of a multitude of issues and opportunities.

    Why is this?
    Pheasy - I don't understand this either.. When I was younger I lived in Saudi Arabia for a few years and went to an American school.....
    We never got taught about the history of other countries either
    Very nearly perfect ...

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    Senior Member Pheasy's Avatar
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    Re: History...... What we should know

    Quote Originally Posted by pinkchick View Post
    Pheasy - I don't understand this either.. When I was younger I lived in Saudi Arabia for a few years and went to an American school.....
    We never got taught about the history of other countries either
    Yes its very strange and I don't know why. I remember learning a lot about, pretty much most countries. I think it gives you a better understanding (and compassion) for other countries/cultures, broadening your outlook and opening your mind to other opportunities.

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    Senior Member Pheasy's Avatar
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    Re: History...... What we should know

    When I was at school (many moons ago ), I was taught 'geography', 'History' and 'Religious Studies (not preaching, but looking at different religions and beliefs around the world).

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    Re: History...... What we should know

    It seems to me there are two sorts of history. There's the narrative story, and that can come either from a historian or from a novelist. There's evidential history, which is an analysis of objects. Teaching history in schools has very much turned into the second. As with so much of k1-k13 schooling in England it's taken a subject as taught to undergraduates and placed it earlier in the curriculum. I've seen k4 teaching that's obviously focused on analysing source documents in classrooms where none of the stories of the period are even mentioned. What used to be foundational - the actual storyline - is now considered irrelevant. You're left with undergraduates equipped with a knowledge the subject's techniques but no setting in which to use them.

    Obviously the storyline is biased, and you can read alternate versions presenting, say, a whig history or a socialist history of the English Civil War and find it hard to recognize they're discussing the same events were it not for a coincidence of names. That's fine, bring both versions into the classroom but for goodness' sake get the stories back into circulation.

    There's one current narrative history of the British Isles and of Europe which is overwhelmingly fresh and readable and those are Norman Davies' "The Isles" and "Europe: A History". Are they suitable for k1-k6? No, they're far too complicated. The same goes for focused looks at aspects of history, say Thomas Packenham's "The Scramble For Africa" or Harrison Salisbury's "The Long March" or Bob Woodward's "State Of Denial: Bush At War, Part 3", but the essential aspect of all of these is that they're story-based. They're readable. They put the structure in place within which evidential history can be examined. How do you make that accessible to a schoolchild? You find a broader simpler version first. Charles Dickens wrote A Child's History of England in 1853. I didn't read it when I was that age but it would have stood me in good stead if I had. It's so interpretive that it's practically fiction, but it does give the essential hooks for a child to hang later histories onto. That, it strikes me, is what history teaching at school has ditched. That's what's left children ignorant about what they used to take for granted. There are dozens of those old narrative accounts in second hand shops, they make ideal Christmas presents.

    The other problem is how to pick up world history instead of national history. It needs a tool equivalent Google Map where you can see everything at one magnification and focus in to rooftops at the other extreme, a "synchronoptic view". Hyperlinked history on a site like http://www.hyperhistory.com/online_n2/History_n2/a.html is the only way I know to get that sort of perspective. It's not unlikely that a child would enjoy spending time there.

    I mentioned novelists - that's a great way of taking in accurately-based narrative history. Here's an example if you want to see what I'm talking about: Jill Paton Walsh, "The Emperor's Winding-Sheet". Your average young teenager could read that with no trouble and the whole book is history.
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    Re: History...... What we should know

    I think it's also being an island nation we are used to the idea of travelling abroad. It's very seldom you meet even a child who hasn't been abroad. In Europe it's even easier to travel to a foreign country. Besides it's hard to study british history without coming across other countries as we've been at war with most of them at some time or other.

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    Re: History...... What we should know

    do other countries get taught US history as a regular part of their curriculum?

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    Re: History...... What we should know

    Quote Originally Posted by sunny104 View Post
    do other countries get taught US history as a regular part of their curriculum?

    yup

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    Re: History...... What we should know

    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo View Post
    yup
    so do you learn everything about the US or just instances where they have played a role in history like their participation in a war for example, etc.?

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    Re: History...... What we should know

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    Quote Originally Posted by sunny104 View Post
    do other countries get taught US history as a regular part of their curriculum?
    Yes - I certainly did
    Very nearly perfect ...

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