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    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    We are looking for your experiences of European history - what did you learn at school, university or elsewhere and how has this shaped your views towards Europe? We would also welcome your thoughts on what we should learn about European history. Should the EU do more to promote a common curriculum? Or is it more feasible to focus on national history, supplemented by the histories of neighbouring countries?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    The key is education, therefore as long as you feed the English schoolkids progapanda that all Germans are still Nazis and the French smell like cheese, Europe will not work. For my part I learned about European history since I can remember. In high school we also had a focus on the EU institutions, its history etc. Many of us also went to another country to study or at abroad right now. I know, however, that this is a rare case among many Europeans and a unified history textbooks are probably one of the greatest possibilities in shaping future generations consciousness.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Gheryando,

    Clearly you have never set foot in an English school, or at least you weren't listening when you did attend.

    For any French or German readers I can assure you the racist views expressed by Gheryando are his/her own and are not tolerated in any British school, or anywhere else in the UK.

    I studied history up to 16 and we studied (its a while ago so my memory may be sketchy): Roman Britain (not Europe), Angles/Saxon/Norman Britain, the English Revolution, the Naval Discoverers, the Industrial Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the French Revolution, the causes of the First World War, the causes of the Second World War, the Dreyfus Affair/French political scandals, the Chinese Revolution/Long March, Suez, the Cold War/Berlin Wall.

    I did nothing (that I can remember) about the EU or its institutions, the American Revolution/Civil War, the Spanish Civil War, Greek/Egytian/Byzantine Civilisation, anything about South America, anything about Scandanavia, anything about Iberia, anything about Africa (except Suez), nothing about the Middle East (except Christianity in Religious Education), nothing about Eastern Europe (except Russia).

    I am in favour of a common curriculum, with a small emphasis on local history (local could be national or regional), i.e. 80% common, 20% local. I don't think that school history really helped to form my current views of Europe. Reading newspapers, current affairs periodicals/TV, etc have had a much greater influence, probably because Europe has changed so much since 1980.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    GaryLondon,
    From your list you clearly didn't study British history. You clearly were'nt told about the ancient and contemporary ancient British.
    Were you told about Buddug/Bodicea - the british chief (her statues are in Llundain/London) who defended the ancient british against the Romans.
    Were you told about the indigenous British resistance to the Anglo Saxon invaders.
    How they defended it from Anglosaxon theft/occupation.
    How they resisted being herded to west Prydain/Britain and kept from their native lands by a big ditch (Offa's Dyke).
    How they called themselves Prydaineg/Britons. Untill that is they started shaping up to the new invaders - the AngloNormans. They started calling each other Cymry then - Comrades.There was continuous guerrilla war to reclaim our lands up to quite recently.We resist these impositions to the present day!
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Merlin,

    The subject was called "History". I didn't write the syllabus, I just attended the classes. I probably did something about the Picts/Scots, but I remember more about leaving fields fallow than about Bodicea, sorry. All that stuff about "indigenous British resistance to the Anglo Saxon invaders" may be historically interesting but it has no place in the future of the EU. I also remember a little about the Wars of the Roses too but that means nothing to me any more and I'm from Lancashire.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    GaryLondon, historical resistance to the Anglo Saxon invaders has everything to do with the EU. The ****** english ******ds have continued occupying our lands for a rather long time. I presume that the EU will be shipping them back to the continent and giving us our country back? No? Thought not. Why should we change one occupying force for another?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    vince,

    "The ****** english ******ds have continued occupying our lands for a rather long time". It wasn't me. I was born in 1964 and so I have not been able to influence British government policy until 1982 because I couldn't vote until I was 18. Anything that happened before 1982 regarding British government policy, whether it was good or bad, has nothing to do with me. The government that I voted for since 1982 did not get into power until 1997. The government that I voted for has, since 1997, worked hard to solve the Troubles in Ireland and has introduced various forms of devolution in both Wales and Scotland. You can't keep blaming the big, bad English for everything.

    "us our country back", the clarion call of racist, nationalists everywhere.

    "historical resistance to the Anglo Saxon invaders has everything to do with the EU", could you expand on this one, preferably without asterisks?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Whilst my education as far as history is concerned didn't progress beyong GCE 'O' level it was incredibly Anglo-centric.

    Since then and as a direct result of extensive travel in Europe my desire to learn about our common history is like a constant itch.

    Norman Davies "Europe" a History is a great source, but inevitably Ancient Greece to The European Union in 1000 pages leaves one hungry for more.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Gary London:

    During this discussion my opinion has changed a little bit.
    Now I think it would be good to have a common European History subject. But separated from local programs. So, you would still respect diversity, but also started shaping a common european identity. Any thoughts on this one?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I had a module at university last year called "European Studies". It entailed the history of the EU and its institutions, as well as covering some of the problems facing them today.

    About 98% of my class (I was not among them) were bored to death by these lectures.





    http://eurobloglondon.blogspot.com
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    jm,

    Earlier in this thread I suggested that history education should be 80% common European curriculum, 20% local curriculum. I imagine that you would want to change those percentages to be a bit more in favour of local but I think that we agree in principal.

    BarefootPilgrim,
    Even a fascinating subject like the history of the EU can be ruined by a poor lecturer :-) Although a more analytical look at European history would be a fine thing to do at university the basics need to be taught to all Europeans. Whether it would be more interesting when you were 12 is debatable but it would be invaluable.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Dear Gary, I lived in England for two years and I can only infer what the British are being taught in history from how they see the rest of Europe. As long the British insist on feeling cozy and reassured when thinking back to the Battle for Britain there will be no feeling of togetherness with the Continentals. The German Ambassador also acknowledged there is a deep scepticism towards Germans in Britain (nowadays). Also, before I went to Britain I thought Europe was one concept. Then I learned that the British don't think of themselves as European but as British. For example, they go on holiday they say they go to Europe. They talk about companies they say, European and British companies. Where do you think does that stem from? Maybe not from history class..but creating a unified curriculum could solve this problem.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Gheryando,

    When people in the UK say they are going to "Europe" it is shorthand for the phrase "Continental Europe" which means mainland Europe. If the go to Iceland they don't say they are going to "Europe" because it is not part of "Continental Europe". You may also hear people talk about "The Continent" when they mean "Continental Europe", just another shorthand term, which you used yourself above.

    Most people can't think back to the Battle of Britain because they weren't alive at the time, only those over 67 years old stand any chance of "thinking back". I don't recall being taught about the Battle of Britain in any history lesson. There are of course lots of excellent British-made films about the Second World War, mostly made in black and white because they are so old. "Ice Cold in Alex" is one of my favourites.

    When Santander bought Abbey National no one talked about a British company being taken over by a European company, they talked about it being taken over by a Spanish company. Barclays are looking to take over ABN Amro and no one is talking about ABN being European everyone talks about them being Dutch.

    From the posts here you will see that some British people see themselves as British (only) and some see themselves as British AND European. You are right if you mean that they very rarely (if ever) see themselves as European ONLY. But then the other posts here also show that to be true of other EU member states.

    You don't quote the German Ambassador, or link to a referemce, so I'm not really sure what was said, but "scepticism" and accusation of being Nazis are very different. I only know one German working in the UK (husband of a friend of my wife!) so if I can get hold of him I will ask his view, but I don't sense any scepticism.

    As I said earlier I am in favour of a common curriculum (at least in part) so I think that we agree about what needs to be done even if we disagree about the reasons why.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    What I would propose is probably unreasonable, but I would much prefer students to be taught global history and not pidgeon holed into national groupings as soon as they set foot into the class room. There should be no distinction between 'our' history and 'their' history, for the subject is not just about identities, it is about contexts, and these should be set out to be as broad as possible. I was taught an incredibly Anglo centric and modern leaning curriculum at school, and now at university I am only just being able to break out of this. In my mind at least the Anglo Saxons are just as foreign as the Greeks or Persians or Carolingians, and I'm sure Charlemagne is a more attracitve prospect than endless streams of British monarchs and prime ministers.

    This debate also seems to be leaning in the direction which Timothy Garton Ash explicitly rejects, namely an attempt to link history with the identities of governments, and this argument I believe merely leads to the rejection so many people give bluntly to Europe as they emphasise 'difference'. A global view history which is detached from ownership and identity politics rejects this link, and so can only be profitable for an international institution like the EU, drawn together by future goals, but still aware of its historical context and the pasts which have been created for it.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    for me the quick/essence of the EU is overcoming the internal and external, for me sub-human, Colonial - Racist Historic practice of certain peoples in Europe.It's clear that the main offender continues to be Mother xxxxxxx England (eg in Cymru/Wales, Yr Alban/Scotland, Y Werddon/Ireland,Iraq, Afganistan etc.,.
    And what makes me laugh - the dominant Corporate Media ( Yanki owned - Murdoch
    TV ,'Newspapers' etc.and I observe that the Beeb follows suit) uses English anti-Continental English Chauvinism against 'Europe'..What irony !- and yet the English are supposedly noted for their irony - not their embecility. Ole!.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Dear Gary, I believe I read that on BBC news a while ago but since I am in China for the year, (BBC is blocked here) I cant find it. I found, however, something else. Maybe you would like to have a look at it. It is a case study that deals with how British preception of the Germans changed with the World Cup. I dont know whether I agree with it but I haven't been to England since the World Cup so maybe suddenly everything changed. Again, I dont really buy the shorthand term because I have asked many people during my two years in England what they mean by saying Europe. They actually dont include themselves. This was very striking to me. I believe, however, that, as you say, a common curriculum would help the cause. Below is the paper. Its 12 pages long but in order for me to prove the point that Germans complain about British perception of Germany, you need only to read pages 1 and 2.

    http://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/fileadmin/documents/The_Perception_of_Germany_in_the_UK_Media_-_a_case_study_of_World_Cup_2006_coverage.pdf
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Gheryando,

    "Bild: How do you explain the regular attacks of the English press against the Germans
    and the often war-like language?
    Blair: You should hear what they call me. They simply insult everybody. There isn’t any
    difference. You can’t take it personally.’"

    Blair got it right (page 4) the British tabloid press insult everybody.

    The British tabloid press isn't the British people, and the British (English really) tabloid press talking football is a truly bizarre thing. I remember England playing Spain one year and the Sun describing Spanish women as having hairy faces. Some Spanish women in the crowd wore false moustaches.

    England football fans views are not representative of the views of the British population.

    The thing I thought was strange about the British press coverage of the German World Cup were the regular references to how Germany had "come to terms with itself" during the event, or similar phrases. I wasn't aware that Germany was uncomfortable with itself.

    " I have asked many people during my two years in England what they mean by saying Europe" that was very convenient and shows great foresight on your part but I don't know who you asked or if it was a representative sample of the British population. It is shorthand. You don't have to buy it because it is the truth, sorry.

    Interesting article, thanks for that.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    You're welcome. I asked many random people, from the owner of my high school's convenience store to the club owner and advertising agent in London or the cab driver. Basically, I asked quite a few random people. But then again, are you trying to tell me the English are not Eurosceptic and the approval rating of the EU is continuously one of the lowest in Britain?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Gheryando,

    I am trying to say that opinion of the EU in Britain is divided, just like it is in many other EU member states. I am trying to say that your original statement about British schoolkids being fed anti-European "propaganda" is nowhere near the truth.

    If in Britain it is 45% (or 55% or 65% or 85%) against and in Italy it is 25% against that doesn't mean that British people hate continental Europeans and Italians love them. Instead of saying that Britain is a horrible Europsceptic place therefore it should be dismissed we should be asking why is the EU approval rating low. Is it simply the British press? Is it the British education system? Is it that the EU is bad for Britain? When we know what it is then we can take appropriate steps.

    We have already agreed that (at least some) common history curriculum would help. It would help the British and it would help every other member state too.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Ok, we are finding a common ground here. Common history curriculum would help. Oh yeah, and a heart attack of a certain non european who owns the british tabloids would come in convenient too.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    What thamil proposed is not unreasonable at all, it’s very sensible.

    In Portugal, we learn Portuguese History until the age of 12 and after that, World History until the age of 15. Roughly sketched, World History covers Antiquity (Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome), Middle Age (barbarian invasions, feudalism, plague, crusades), Discoveries (Portuguese and Spanish empires, Aztecs and Incas), Renaissance (religious reforms and counter-reform), Mercantilism (English, French and Dutch empires), Industrial Revolution, Liberalism (French Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, American Revolution, South-American revolutions), and World Wars.

    Of course, Portuguese contributions to World History are highlighted. I always thought it was too Eurocentric, non-European cultures are only mentioned when understanding them is required to understand a certain European event. This is even more obvious in Portuguese History, where, after a brief mythic prelude set in Antiquity, we rush past over a thousand years of Roman, Gothic and Muslim occupation to Portugal’s independence in the twelfth century.

    European History programs would benefit from wider horizons. Maybe then we’d learn not only to know better one another, but also the rest of the world.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    As I hinted in another thread, I'm not at all sure whether it's desirable to have a centralized system of teaching history. I think such system risks harming the students' ability to form independent views and to see things from different perspectives and such system effectively undermines democracy. There's also the power problem - those in charge of such centralized historical curricula will be inherently tempted to use them as an instrument of power. I don't have a problem with the substantive outline presented by you (although I note an absolute absence of Central/Eastern European history, which however doesn't really bother me too much because one can't learn everything at once). Whether or not a centralized system is used, I agree that history should also include broader European history and world history.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    oulematu said,

    'I don't have a problem with the substantive outline presented by you (although I note an absolute absence of Central/Eastern European history, which however doesn't really bother me too much because one can't learn everything at once).'

    Mind that what I outlined is not how I think history should be taught, but how it actually is taught in Portuguese schools. I meant it as a comparison with the program GaryLondon outlined before for the UK, which seemed more centred on domestic affairs.

    I remain curious as to what other countries learn in history classes...
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    As far as I can tell, the typical curriculum of history classes in the Czech Republic covers similar areas as the ones mentioned by you, but is even more Eurocentric, with less attention paid to Latin America and colonies, about equal focus on France, Britain, Italy and the US, and more attention paid to Czech and Slovak, German and Central European history and some Eastern European history.

    There is a huge difference between how history is taught now and how it was taught before 1989 (pre-1989 there was a big emphasis on the proletarian revoluations, Russia and the whole idea of historical determinism - in other words the notion that history follows deterministic historical laws based on which each political system is replaced via class struggle by a more superior system, with the most perfect one being communism, especially as practised in the USSR).