First, 2 direct questions :
. What do you think of this seminar which has started last wednesday ?
. What place has French history in your curriculum ?
In this message, I shall develop one aspect which has been debated on the education forum : Are we teaching nationalist or nationalistic histories ?
Can we teach an unbias european history ?
Is it better to focus on bilateral relationships, let say between France and Britain, or can we reach a common continental (or world) history ?
In a next message, I will develop the WW1 example, from a recent historiography book, written by Jay Winter and Antoine Prost.In France, the British and british history can be seen from opposite views
.One leading to anglophilia
At school, most kids are studying English, and may learn elements of english history and culture.
2004 is the anniversary of the Entente cordiale
Some pupils have been to England though it seems sometimes easier to organise school exchanges with Spain, Germany, Sweden.
On the other side, nationalists can find elements for a new anglophobia
, or francophobia.
Joan of Arc, Napoleon have been used in this purpose.
In recent months, our countries have had divergent policies about Bush 's war
. The future of Europe is another source of division
: French thatcherians use Bruxelles to fight what they see as a decline due to a state ruled society.In some places, you can have both feelings
People in Le Havre
still think that there was no serious military reason to bomb their city, kill people and destroy a harbour. Some may even see in this bombing a pure economic rivalry.
On the other hand, 2 reverse examples :
in 1942, more than one thousand men and women attended a mass for british pilots
that have been shot dead by the Germans. These villagers had no trouble. 2 years later, in 1944, near Bayeux, an equivalent ceremony led some villagers to prison and to german camps.
This morning, at home, there were 2 english couples, coming from the Fens
(they live close to Andrew).
One of their uncle, Arthur Papworth
, was killed in August 1944 ; he is buried in the village cemetery (not in a war cemetery), and the local authority pay a gardener to "flower" the tomb. At this moment, it is all in yellow, with daffodils, one of the colours of his regiment. The local school is named after him
.In French lycees, what can we teach about British history ?
- Nearly nothing before the Renaissance
Of course, the Normans
may be part of the chapter on medieval history, but only about Sicily, not about England. Roger II or William II ruling Sicily are used to show the interest of mixing different cultures ..The Norman heritage
So we may find Thomas More
in some textbooks. But not Elisabeth 's portraits.http://expositions.b.../arret/d2/1.htm
-« La nation anglaise est la seule de la terre qui soit parvenue à régler le pouvoir des rois en leur résistant, et qui d'efforts en efforts, ait enfin établi ce gouvernement sage où le prince, tout-puissant pour faire du bien, a les mains liées pour faire du mal ; où les seigneurs sont grands sans insolence et sans vassaux, et où le peuple partage le gouvernement sans confusion
, in the Letters on the English
(1734), had an active role in this anglomania of the elites. http://www.voltaire....re_english.html
In college, the Habeas Corpus
is used in contrast with Louis XIV and the French monarchy.
But we have to focus mainly on the French revolution.
Not on the Revolution, but on this revolution seen through the « political experiments » on the way to democracy !!!In the old days, we spent time on the industrial revolution
, on its explanations, and on the comparison between France and England. That has changed, and we focus more on the second industrial revolution, where other countries can compete with Englandhttp://aphgcaen.free...que/histeco.htm
No British troops in WW1, in scientific classes : we have to study « The French at war during WW1
is still there, with his fight for freedom. So does the courage of the British people
in a war we recently saw in a color documentary
But Vichy 's propaganda
did develop an opposite view, about Mers el Khebir, about bombing on French cities, like Rouen
. There was a poster saying « les assassins reviennent toujours sur les lieux de leur crime », with Joan of Arc 'shadow.http://www.centremic...g/galleriea.htm
(go to the Italy poster, move right to Rouen 's one)
Some teachers may also compare French and British decolonisations
: French failed, and made war in Indochina and in Algeria. British left India before the 1947 killing...I shall let aside the Middle East history, in 1917 or in 1947.
In fact, the positive side is that we try to avoid nationalist POV
Michel Foucher, a geographer, writes that until 1949, we had a Westphalian Europe
where several nations or countries did fight to rule the continent, or the world (via the Oceans).
That after WW2, most of them have become middle-size powers, and that they have understood that they must built a united Europe
, both to avoid the return of WW, and to be able to compete with the USA.http://www.bibliomon...3?id_auteur=693
One difficulty, to conclude : we no longer teach history alone, but we are asked to built a European identity
, as our predecessors did about national identities. Sometimes, we put together history and memory. That can be dangerous
So Remy Brague, a French philosopher, may suggest one answer.The European inheritage is not only what we have got from our ancestors, but what we choose in our genealogy
: greek culture and democracy, roman law, renaissance, industrial revolution, The rights of man...http://aphgcaen.free.../europe2000.htmhttp://odur.let.rug..../ROM/rofm04.htm
Edited by D Letouzey, 26 March 2004 - 02:14 PM.