Saturday, August 19, 2006

Opening the floor..what did you learn in history?

In the Dutch equivalent of highschool, I learned a lot, A LOT, of history. Not just our own long history, how the Netherlands came into being , and also the history of Europe, the different empires, Karl Marx and how Marxism/Communism evolved, the discovery of America up to last century, Dutch colonialism just to name a few. I keep hearing the same comment from a lot of Americans, my own age or younger, that all they learn about is the US (and no doubt the glorified version, no Howard Zinn in the class rooms I imagine) and the revolutionary war, over and over again.
So that made me think. If, as a people, you do not learn your truthful history, warts and all (make no mistake, we certainly did, oh the sins of our fathers), how can you psychologically, accept and see a tainted present? How can you criticize, change for the better, your current status quo, if your compatriots do not believe in anything but a history that is not entirely truthful? How about my non American readers? What is it that you have been taught about your own countries' history and of the history of the world?

6 Comments:

Blogger Zee said...

Sting (lead character in the group Police):
"History, will teach us nothing."

I sort of agree ... humans learn, then they abandon whatever knowledge that was accumulated.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Zee, in some ways you're right. I guess I grew up close enough after WW2 (although, ahem, I'm not 'that' old, whatever that means to a 100plus old creature such as yourself) to experience rememberance day and memorial day (in holland on two consecutive days in May) each year with reference and full of stories. I love history too though so I guess I see the importance in knowing it, being honest about the good and the bad legacies, and honouring it. But, those were the simple days, of not only listening to this 'new' band The Police, but also AC/DC (what, me a headbanger??naa) and KC and the Sunshine band..my age of innocence..
overall these days what with the heavy duty focus on 'entertainment tonight', today, right now and EXTRAEXTRA see all about it, the people who need to know it the most are nicely lulled to sleep,
thanks for stopping by Zee..btw..love b/w photography and liked those pics on your site.
Ingrid

10:45 PM  
Blogger zazou said...

Ingrid- absolutely true! However, I also think that people need to do a little self-teaching and hang around the rest of the world a little.

1:27 AM  
Blogger Zee said...

Ingrid, you could be my neighbor and I wouldn't even know it :)
Why? There is a younger couple on my road (New Yorkers - "weekenders"). Her name is Ingrid also and she is originally from Utrecht I believe, a fashion designer and a liberal and flexible person in her thinking. He is a lawyer, stuck in his corporate dealings, both professionally and intellectually, a candid supporter of Bush. Makes me wonder how they'll make out in the long run ... ah, but that's not my business.

Back to "history".
It is actually my hope that people in general learn as much about history as possible, especially their own. So the modified Sting blurb should be: History, will teach us nothing - unless we compound its lessons in our present consciousness.
Be well, Zee.

7:17 AM  
Anonymous Yohay Elam said...

Israeli high schools teach history only up to the early 50s. Everything after that is controversial, so it is only mentioned in other classes. Before our rememberance day, lots of personal stories are heard from battles, but the big picture isn't really taught at school.
Of course, the versions of historical events, when mentioned, are glorified versions.
Luckily for myself, my parents have a lot of interest and knowledge regarding history, so I do know a lot from them, and from my own interest.

10:36 AM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Zee, now that is a clear case of opposites attract if you ever saw one. My husband is not as liberal or as open minded as I am, unfortunately, a typical product of growing up in the US. I know there are notable exceptions, but unless you've traveled outside (as Zazou talks about), no American can really graps what living in another culture is like. Yes yes, you 'could' be Kafka, but..culturally, Americans are not surrounded by too much diversity and differences and interlocked histories as they are in Europe. I do find that I don't talk to him about a lot of things which is a shame and is a big miss in our marriage, I wish it weren't so..
If you do ever get to visit 'my neighbourhood' (during one of your wanderings), be sure to let me know. Austin is a pretty progressive place here in TX..thank God!
Zazou, I learned so much more when I lived in Saudi Arabia, however briefly. I lived amongst all kinds of expats, Asian, European , American AND did not live in a compound, which really helped as well. It opened my eyes in more ways than one plus I did not live with the ever present 'them vs me' because I lived right amongst 'them'.Yohay, I remember you making that comment in one of your posts re. the history that's taught in Israel. I wonder why that is because I would think (!) that the raison d'etre of a Jewish nation was the diaspora and the desire to have one's own place without fear of persecution. Why do you think that is? I am most curious about that..
Ingrid

11:32 AM  

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