I appreciate the comments received regarding my article outlining the delicate question of the wall along the US-Australian border.
When I studied in England a couple of years ago, my neighbor in the room next door was a pretty young Northern Irish woman named Laura who worked as an elementary school teacher. On one occasion I asked her how in such a multicultural city as London the problem of teaching world history to kids of diverse ethnic origins and religious affiliations was approached.
I’m especially interested in universality and perspectives toward it from specific cultures; plus I was fascinated with London’s diversity.
However, Laura’s response both intrigued and shocked me. My Irish friend explained that teens in London aren’t taught world history per se; instead, they’re given a group of fragments that are taken from the entire group of events recorded in humanity’s history.
The specific groups depend on the cultural backgrounds and the neighborhood in which the school’s located. This is to say (and may specialists forgive me for the lack of rigor in my example; I’m citing these according to what I’m able to remember), they could be taught something about the Roman Empire and the conquest of the British Islands by the legions, later perhaps some African history followed by a fragment in which the Second World War is explained, and lastly an approach to the conflicts in the Middle East.
I don’t remember the number of fragments, but let us assume that the number is four – period. To me, I don’t see this as world history, despite how “multicultural” it might seem. Rather, these are just four different and unconnected histories.
My “English fears” were confirmed when I attended a meeting of left intellectuals at the University of London. There, they discussed at length the issue of the teaching of history, and it seemed to me that I wasn’t mistaken…
Nonetheless, I don’t venture to speculate on what British kids would think about the previously mentioned wall, but I do indeed expect that the teachers (including my friend) would immediately realize this was nonsense. However, the teaching of world history today is poor in comparison to what my generation received here in Cuba and in Russia.