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  • What history do Americans/French/foreign types learn at school?
  • kormoran
    Free Member

    Today I was talking to an American who worked in a national trust property. It got me wondering about the history that other countries typically teach their school children. Living in the UK I basically did 1066 to 1500 and a bit of 20th century south Africa. Which although massively important in a world beating style is largely of no significance to pretty much anyone outside of our little island

    What do Americans learn about? And the French, or even countries like Thailand or Brazil?

    Edukator
    Free Member

    In France the general trend is that the more recent the history the more time is spent on it and the more recent the history the later in your schooling you’ll learn it. It starts with the origins of man and ends with whatever the latest significant event was. Even Maastricht and Brexit get in there. I thoroughly enjoyed reading junior’s history books as he went through his schooling. It has a French/European bias as you’d expect.

    It’s all in the national education programme online if you’re that interested: For example

    https://www.education.gouv.fr/les-programmes-du-college-3203

    tjagain
    Full Member

    The Dutch get taught rsther different history from us.   The dutch were the victors against tbe spanish armada for example  because most of tbe English ships were  actually dutch mercenaries.   Also tbe British empire was stolen from the dutch.  Hans Brinker ( finger in the dyke) is a myth

    My brother in law might have been on the windup🤣

    dissonance
    Full Member

    My brother in law might have been on the windup

    They didnt mention the successful invasion of the UK in 1688?

    ok not technically the UK at that point but close enough.

    kormoran
    Free Member

    Edukatot the French history program looks pretty exciting I have to say. Thanks to Google translate of course. It genuinely sounds interesting and coherent, and relevant. I particularly like the reference to time and place

    My own history education seems woeful in comparison, and I like to think I’ve got a reasonable grasp of European/Western history, although largely gained from reading and investigation since I left full time schooling

    FB-ATB
    Full Member

    Pretty sure I covered from cavemen up to 20th Century. Think there was a bit of a jump from ending  comprehensive (Stuarts) to starting at Grammar (Georgian).

    Mainly UK based but with touchstones when we were invaded/going invading eg Romans, Norse, Normans, Crusades, India, Africa and Americas.

    My brother in law is Spanish so it was interesting comparing what he was taught compared to the UK schooling. The Moorish influence was played down a lot when he was at school.

    I think around the turn of the century there was a programme on TV comparing the last 1000 years around the world. It put into perspective what we were up to compared to other civilisations on the other side of the planet.

    CountZero
    Full Member

    I understand that American history starts and ends with the New Testament. And that anyone not White is, or will be, subjected to whatever the hell the future Republikkkan government wants.

    Or am I being too harsh?

    doris5000
    Full Member

    I barely remember ANY of the history i learned at school.  I did history in years 7/8/9  (that’s 1st/2nd/3rd year in old money) and here is what I remember:

    Primary sources vs secondary sources
    Something something turnpike roads?
    Either the poor laws or the corn laws. I am not sure which
    Possibly the Norman Conquest
    Mr Heathcote populated all his analogies with two fictional characters called Sharon and Tracey
    If you got detention you had to sandpaper all the graffiti off the desks.  It was hard work

    MrsDoris went to a pretty crummy school in Hackney, but had a great teacher who, due to the ethnic diversity in the school, taught them all about people like Mary Seacole, Marcus Garvey, the seven heroes of Jamaica, etc etc.  She still remembers it well.  I wish I’d had history lessons there!

    My ex went to school in Minsk, where they learned that the USSR defeated Hitler, with help from the US and the Allies. They also learned nothing of the Katyn massacre (perpetrated by the USSR, 22,000 dead) but were well informed about the much smaller Khatyn massacre (perpetrated by Germany, 149 dead).

    walleater
    Full Member

    Canada was formed in 1867, despite people living here countless of thousands of years prior to that.

    The First Nations kids were taken from their homes, and sent to Residential Schools to be ‘corrected’.

    Edukator
    Free Member

    My own formal history education ended aged 13 when we chose our CSE and O-level subjects in the secondary mod’. The last things we did were the canals and railways with a trip to the Gas Street Bassin. The teacher was a nice enough bloke with an aroma of spirits. As a caver I got interested in mines, mining history then industrial and social history. Life became a history lesson when I met Madame Edukator who has a history doctorate among other bits of paper. She taught DNL history in lycée for a while.

    Our holidays always have a significant history content. The more you know the more you learn. As we walk along  we’ll be dating the buildings on architectural styles, thinking about their functions, analysing the landscapes and discussing what was happening in the place in various historical periods. The geologist in me takes things back a bit futher.

    simondbarnes
    Full Member

    I’m ashamed to say that I can’t remember exactly what I was taught in history at school. I did however have an amazing teacher and it was the only subject I got an A in.

    politecameraaction
    Free Member

    “Or am I being too harsh?”

    Not harsh, just ignorant.

    CountZero
    Full Member

    Not harsh, just ignorant.

    About what the Republicans are about? Care to explain, I’m all ears. I’ve been reading a great deal regarding the sort of educational programs that the Republicans are introducing in Red States – it’s not good. JK Rowling would be right at home.

    politecameraaction
    Free Member

    thols2
    Full Member

    Everything you need to know about American history right here.

    hels
    Free Member

    It was a bit more like this:

    nickc
    Full Member

    I’d imagine most kids (who don’t have a history bent) will probs soak in the same amount of un-nuanced secondary sourced, badly researched – flat out propaganda, lies, and half-truths that school history teaching mostly is, but about their own country.

    Cougar
    Full Member

    I barely remember ANY of the history i learned at school.  I did history in years 7/8/9  (that’s 1st/2nd/3rd year in old money)

    Same.  Our History teacher was one of the cool and froody youngish types, but even he couldn’t liven up a subject I found achingly dull.  I scarcely remember any of the curriculum, but I seem to recall there was a lot about wars.  Maybe a deep-dive on a particular king or queen, I remember The Divine Right of Kings being discussed.  I think we did a piece on the Quakers at one point, which comes in handy to this day when I’m buying porridge.

    I dropped the subject like a stone after getting one of the worst exam marks I’ve ever had, on the final exam prior to taking GCSE Options.  I smashed out the paper with tons of time left, sat there reading a book.  As time went on, I was increasingly confused that everyone was still working, hands going up for more paper.  It was with about 15 minutes left on the clock that I realised with horror that the exam paper was double-sided.  (Astonishingly I wasn’t the worst mark in the class, there was at least one kid below me.)

    Geography didn’t fare much better for me.  We seemed to spend an awful lot of time on things like arable farming and three-field crop rotation.  I couldn’t have cared less, and my first home was a dairy farm.  About the only other thing I remember from lessons was drawing a blue line around maps to indicate which side of the edge was the sea, a technique that even back in the 1980s I’d only ever seen on maps which had ‘here be dragons’ in the corner.

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    I barely remember ANY of the history i learned at school. I did history in years 7/8/9 (that’s 1st/2nd/3rd year in old money)

    Same here and I also have zero idea or experience of what is taught elsewhere in the world.

    I vaguely remember various bits about kings and queens and 1066.
    I think the stuff about Romans was more covered in Latin classes than history.

    MSP
    Full Member

    German schools teach some quite brutal lessons about WWII and the holocaust, there is no sweeping reality under the carpet to present a glorified version of that era in their history.

    poly
    Free Member

    About what the Republicans are about? Care to explain, I’m all ears.

    I think your perspective on US politics is probably more polarised than it really is.  You are implying that the defining feature of republicanism is racism.  Spend some time with a wide variety of Americans and you’ll see that the dividing lines are not as black and white (literally or metaphorically) as you might imagine.   All countries which have a defacto two party system suffer from this problem.

    I’ve been reading a great deal regarding the sort of educational programs that the Republicans are introducing in Red States – it’s not good.

    You probably don’t need to cross the Atlantic to find some crazy examples of politics and religion getting entwined in Schools.  In the U.K., even in non-denominational schools, regular acts of religious worship are required in Schools by law.  Some ignore it, but it’s down to local management and governance – a local authority or governors who wanted to push it would be entirely within their rights.  Much of their arguments are reciting the same stuff we had with s28 under Thatcher.

    JK Rowling would be right at home.

    is JKR a racist now?  And presumably not that keen on women’s reproductive rights – oh hang on that doesn’t makes sense, perhaps you mean that the schools are a bit Hogwarts-y and the curriculum is steeped in magic… no that doesn’t make sense either because those states are Bible Belt and that’s all witchcraft and evil.

    too simplistic to put everyone you don’t like in one giant box and say they would all get along well.  I don’t agree with everything JK says, but I have paid attention to what she says rather than what other people say she says and there is a valid concern shared by a significant part of the population.  People who demonise her should try to take a deep breath and understand the point she is making – just as those who demonise republicans for being racist should try to then understand why large numbers of minorities vote for them!

    Cougar
    Full Member

    People who demonise her should try to take a deep breath and understand the point she is making

    I don’t necessarily disagree with you, but please don’t conflate a lack of agreement with a lack of understanding.

    Many distasteful views can be coated in a veneer of acceptability.  What’s the saying, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter?  There are fine lines indeed between patrotism, nationalism, racism and xenophobia.

    Rowling’s stance is pro-women and that’s difficult to argue against in isolation.  What’s less fine is that she’s quite happy to throw an oft-misunderstood and heavily persecuted minority under the bus in the process.

    Caher
    Full Member

    I’ve met some fairly senior English professionals who’ve not a clue about some of the genocides and land thievery that happened in Ireland over the course of the last millennium. Never mind the brutality of Cromwell.

    nickc
    Full Member

    I would say that what English folks know of Irish history (even the parts that part of the UK) is mostly; zip.

    radbikebro
    Full Member

    I went to elementary and middle school in Texas, I basically got taught the bible and American history – God created the world, no such thing as evolution, names and orders of all the presidents and all the states, a LOT about the civil war, and obviously how the Americans saved the world in WW1 and WW2, but surprisingly there was a little bit on the civil rights movements.

    One thing I can remember  very vividly was my history teacher trying to tell me that dinosaurs didn’t exist because they weren’t in the bible.

    ji
    Free Member

    Things that we weren’t taught about in history that I think we should have include anything about Ireland and the troubles,much about slavery (apart from Britain being great by ending it), the history around india and various other colonies, the role of Empire and the process of colonies moving away from British rule.

    Older world history such as the movement of peoples out of Africa, civilisations in places like Eygpt and S America etc were also totally missing.

    We did a lot on WW2, british political history from around 1850, and random chunks of older British history such as Henry VIII and so on though. Probably less useful in undersatnding modern Britain or the world than the topics that I listed above.

    Edukator
    Free Member

    I don’t find JKR’s views any mores extreme than  Hannah/STW editorial views. I’m not about to boycott either.

    There is a degree of censoship in evey school library I’ve been in in whatever country. Some seems reasonable some less so.

    thisisnotaspoon
    Free Member

    Rowling’s stance is pro-women and that’s difficult to argue against in isolation.  What’s less fine is that she’s quite happy to throw an oft-misunderstood and heavily persecuted minority under the bus in the process.

    Her brand of Feminism is comparable to the racial equality of “All Lives Matter” or those “thin blue line” flags 🤮.

    easily
    Free Member

    I really enjoyed this book:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lies_My_Teacher_Told_Me

    about how history is taught in the US

    nickc
    Full Member

    I think a lot of what that books says about how US history is taught is probably applicable to many western countries curriculums. A lack of nuance, singling out of their context people are either ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’, the tendency to story-board history into a narrative that goes from bad to good, or from ignorance to knowledge and so on.

    mogrim
    Full Member

    One thing that’s vaguely amusing about how history is taught in the US, is when you talk to an American about it and they can’t quite figure out why the US Revolution is hardly mentioned in the teaching of history in the UK. For them, it’s a major event – while for us it’s a pretty minor thing.

    But yeah, having talked to a lot of Americans (and Spanish), my basic conclusion is the same as @nickc

    poly
    Free Member

    Rowling’s stance is pro-women and that’s difficult to argue against in isolation.  What’s less fine is that she’s quite happy to throw an oft-misunderstood and heavily persecuted minority under the bus in the process.

    I see it differently.  My perception (and I don’t get excited enough to chase her round looking to find fault in every word she says so it is only a perception) is that she has no such malevolent intent – rather she’s made those views that you say are hard to “argue against” clear and a (sub set of a) community have launched into a vitriolic toxic battle against her, often misrepresenting what she says in order to stir up hatred, not against a persecuted minority, but against one individual.  Now. if I was JK I’d probably have moved on, or quietly found less high profile ways to enjoy my billions; lots of others would have fought back in a rabid Laurence Fox type way.  You may not agree with Rowling’s stance, but its not an ill informed outright hatred, its carefully considered concern; society could do with more people like her who see an issue they think might not be as simple as it is presented and are prepared to stand up, in the face of personal attack and abuse, and attempt to quite eloquently explain their concerns.   I don’t know the details of her politics, but given the sort of organisations she works with I suspect she’d find being lumped in with the “Republicans” as offensive as I would if you suggested my views on Scottish Independence were no different to UKIP or the BNP.

    pondo
    Full Member

    “My perception (and I don’t get excited enough to chase her round looking to find fault in every word she says so it is only a perception) is that she has no such malevolent intent”

    I think she does. If not, she’s very bad at putting her point of view across.

    joshvegas
    Free Member

    You may not agree with Rowling’s stance, but its not an ill informed outright hatred, its carefully considered concern

    I’m not so sure about that. She comes pretty  close to suggesting all non biological females  are just pretending to predate on females.

    multi21
    Free Member

    Caher

    Full Member

    I’ve met some fairly senior English professionals who’ve not a clue about some of the genocides and land thievery that happened in Ireland over the course of the last millennium. Never mind the brutality of Cromwell.

    Whilst making a point about Lyra Mckee being killed and the ongoing tensions in some areas, an Irish colleague of mine remarked “you wouldn’t know about that because Britains never been invaded”. We were in Colchester at the time 🙂
    vinnyeh
    Full Member

    Nefver studied history as a subject in NZ, but we had ‘social studies’, a blend of geography and history, as a mandatory subject from primary until just prior to our GCSE equivalents. Long ago now, but I can remember looking at Japan, the depression/new deal, England in the medieval periods, NZ colonial history and that’s about it.

    Out of curiosity I had a quick look at the current history curriculum at GCSE/A level equivalents and see that it’s less driven by period/location than by understandings, with topics suggested rather than chosen from a mandated list.

    For example, the objective to understand how people’s interpretations and perspectives on past events of significance to NZ’ers differ offers up a range of events with varying interpretations, eg

    tibet – liberated or oppressed?

    anglo-saxon occupation of England – assimilation or extermination

    suffrage -won or given?

    bin laden, guy Fawkes, te kooti – freedom fighter or terrorist?

    NZ nuclear free policy- strategic risk, or national identifier?

    1981 springbok tour

    Looks to me like a huge change from what, and how,  I was taught as a kid- I grew up with an overwhelmingly colonial perspective on things, there really seems an attempt to remove many of the biases. Is it like this in UK now?

    nickc
    Full Member

      You may not agree with Rowling’s stance, but its not an ill informed outright hatred, its carefully considered concern

    I think the problem that folks have with JK Rowlands stance (including myself) is that all the ‘carefully considered’ support she offers trans-women, it comes with a thickly underlined “BUT” that separates trans women from those who she thinks of as ‘actual’ women based on the idea that womanhood is fixed, intrinsic and anatomically determined.

    poly
    Free Member

    I think she does. If not, she’s very bad at putting her point of view across.

    Is she?  Or is she oft misquoted?   Here’s her own words: https://www.jkrowling.com/opinions/j-k-rowling-writes-about-her-reasons-for-speaking-out-on-sex-and-gender-issues/

    I’m not so sure about that. She comes pretty  close to suggesting all non biological females  are just pretending to predate on females.

    Not in any actual words that I’ve seen (see above).   There is no doubt that there are small number of predatory trans people who use it to their advantage.

    I think the problem that folks have with JK Rowlands stance (including myself) is that all the ‘carefully considered’ support she offers trans-women, it comes with a thickly underlined “BUT” that separates trans women from those who she thinks of as ‘actual’ women based on the idea that womanhood is fixed, intrinsic and anatomically determined.

    I’m not sure if I agree with her or not (likely, like most people with strong views I’ll agree with them on some things and disagree with them on other aspects) BUT people seem to fixate on her views because she’s a public figure, not scared to speak out, and a media go to person for an opinion on stuff.  There’s a sizeable part of the female population who’s sympathies are strongly aligned with hers (and indeed a big chunk of the male population).  Now some of them are just out-and-out bigots, but there’s plenty of well informed, educated people who are unhappy about some of the issues JK highlights.  I find the whole concept of gender a bit odd – why do we need to label or identify as being anything?  But there are biological differences between us and failing to recognise those is probably not helpful; moreover suggesting that because one group of people has decided that it is offensive to even question the label they have self-determined applies to them, those who have used that same label for their whole lifetime are now told it doesn’t mean what they think it means and its offensive for them to self-determine what it means.  I don’t think its a simple question of language.

    nickc
    Full Member

    @poly, I’d agree that she gets more than a fair share of on-line vitriol thrown her way. For shame. We should as a society at least allow those with differing opinions to our own to be heard with being drowned in a vat of personal abuse.  I disagree with her views on this, although I understand (and too an extent sympathise with) the position she comes from. However she herself resorts too often to outdated – perhaps even bigotted tropes, use biased reporting, and outdated science. There’s a pretty big heap of ‘reap what you sow’ that can be left at her feet.

    desperatebicycle
    Full Member

    I would say that what English folks know of Irish history (even the parts that part of the UK) is mostly; zip

    I learned more from a Sinead O’Connor performance I saw on the BBC a few weeks ago, than I ever learned at school about Ireland.
    My school history (I got a ‘D’, but remember a fair bit…and my teacher was a big tubby fella with a sweepover, who played a lot of badminton (funny the things you can recall from 45 years ago)) was mostly “social history” – tolpuddle martyrs, spinning jennys etc. Sometimes comes in useful when watching The Chase or similar.

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