Archive for the ‘education’ Category

Should History be Compulsory?

January 27, 2007

Once people pass out of the school system, everyone forms an opinion on what kids “should learn”. It’s like politics, it gets heated, and people get angry, but just like politics has a real world effect, so too does our schooling system.

So-called curriculum and the various ways of measuring it (A levels, SAT, outcome-based education) are real, because our kids are subjected to six years of it. So much of schooling is about peers and socialisation, but there is all this time spent in classrooms too.

So what makes a good foundation? The three R’s (reading, writing, ‘rithmetic) are taught at lower levels, and I take as a given. The latter two years of high school give students a choice in what they focus on, so there is personal discretion there. What of the middle years?

I wonder if history should be given a greater emphasis. Not the dates, but a broad grasp of civilisation and different cultures. Seeing all the mistakes and wrong turns taken, where positive steps have been made, how slavery was ended, how the vote was won. This “informing” of the mind to know where we came from to understand the world of today.

And this historical learning doesn’t go out-of-date (pardon the pun). It gives individuals tools for thinking about the world, and analysing events. Learning history seems to be empowering.

Of course, there are those who argue that history is highly subjective, and always filtered to present a particular point of view. There is some merit in that. But ignorance, and only studying “objective” sciences is no answer either. Better to be have an open system that allows people to question and redress any biases that may exist.

I can coming to the view that learning History may be a a very positive thing for young people (and slightly older ones too).