>Has the time for ‘national history’ passed?

>In an age of globalisation should schools still be teaching history with such a heavy focus on national history? Is it right that many of todays children and adults alike can tell you obscure facts about their own national histories and yet don’t have a clue about major global developments?


  • >Well national history wasn't heavily taught in NZ because it is a younger country.They did try teaching a little of the UK's history and I understand what you mean. I always thought those old kings were fairly pointless and difficult to remember.However, in the case of the UK, I think the teaching of obscure facts has as much to do with instilling a national identity than it does with educating students with useful skills, or knowledge of important events.Therefore, your history lesson serves a wider purpose than what your math lesson might.Then there is the issue of everybody learning of global facts and global languages, and other things that connect us globally, versus learning about the things that make us different and unique.

  • >I agree. Instilling a sense of national identity is definitely important but as you say it's about a balance between what makes us different, and what we should all know. Now I'm quite liberal here in that I favour individual schools being able to decide a large part of their curriculum. However if I were a decision maker at one school I would much rather see people learn about the Mongol Empire than memorise the names of Henry VIII's wives. The Mongol Empire was the largest unbroken land empire ever to exist, and one which, save for a succession that caused General Tsubodai to pull back, almost conquered Europe. Now Henry VIII's wives were important too as Henry's need to find more wives in order to give birth to a mail heir (obviously he didn't know that the man decides the sex of the child) was a significant cause of the English Reformation and thus of European and World History. Nevertheless the extent to which the Mongols shaped world history is much less debatable than the extent to which Catherine of Aragon did, and yet almost no Brits know anything about the Mongol Empire.

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