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Regional vs national history

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#1 Martin_M


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Posted 05 November 2011 - 06:10 PM

Hello,everyone. It's my first post here and I'd like to ask you a question (very important one for me). I'm the teacher in Upper Silesia. My region was in its history the part of German Empire, Czech Kingdom, for the last 60 years it has been the part of Poland. Polish history curriculum encourages the teachers to teach regional history - but only as long as it is the part of the nation state's history! It means that our regional history from Polish point of view simply... doesn't exist for many centuries. You cannot legally teach about your city or town's history. The reason is clear. As the German province we were the enemies for the Poles,so you cannot teach about it in the Polish schools.
I guess the similar situation is in other parts of Europe. Catalan teachers have to teach about Catalan uprising against the Spaniards, Welsh teachers about their anti-English revolts, they surely sometimes find it uncomfortable as now Spain and Catalonia, Wales and England are the parts of the same state. The situation is also interesting in Alsatia - its history was mainly German, while in France the same curriculum is for the whole country (am I right?), so Alsatian children have to learn about the history of Paris or Bretagne but they cannot learn about their hometown.
Has anyone of you had this problem in your career? How did you manage to solve it? Did you prefer being loyal to your nation state or devoted to the regional history? Maybe I am wrong about the situations in some countries,I would like you to correct me if I made some mistakes.
Best greetings for all the posters here.

#2 Guest_Norman Pratt_*

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 01:28 AM

Hi Martin. My Junker friend would be very unhappy to hear what you say about the understanding of History in your home town. It is interesting that nation states feel so insecure about their identities that the 'History' curriculum tends to be not only rigidly national but nationalistic. Some German teachers I once had the pleasure of explaining our KS3 History syllabus to were absolutely horrified by the triumphalist tale our textbooks had to tell. The concept of 'Local History' comes in here: it can often provide an opportunity to question the 'hegemony' of national History (but, as I understand it, that's exactly the story that can't be told). Also, there is another kind of 'regional' history, in our case European History: there ought to be more of it.

#3 Dafydd Humphreys

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 07:12 PM

Hi. Wales and England may be part of the same state, but they are not part of the same nation.
My Youtube Channels: <a href="http://www.youtube.c...m/Learnhistory" target="_blank">LearnHistory</a> (RIP) :( and <a href="http://www.youtube.c.../Learnhistory2" target="_blank">LearnHistory2</a> and now <a href="http://www.youtube.c.../Learnhistory3" target="_blank">LearnHistory3</a>

#4 Martin_M


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Posted 10 November 2011 - 08:19 PM

Hi. Wales and England may be part of the same state, but they are not part of the same nation.

You, the Welsh, are lucky as you have got your autonomy and own curriculum! We consider ourselves as the different nation but it is still decided in Polish capital what do we have to teach our pupils about our regional history. I am waiting from more responses from the ones who had to choose between the regional and nation state loyalty...

#5 rachelloughery



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Posted 18 November 2011 - 05:16 PM

Hi, not sure what advice to offer but wanted to share my experiences of being taught controversial history. I grew up in Northern Ireland and then taught there for two years before moving overseas. There are two very clear versions of identity there and two very different and hotly defended versions of the past. This meant studying and teaching history was controversial and.............. I LOVED IT!

School was the only 'safe' place to discuss these issues and the only place where many of us were able to ask questions about 'the other side' without fear of being alienated from our families for daring to raise the issue or for holding a different viewpoint. I took the opportunity when teaching there to use a lot of roleplay exercises and a lot of source material to look for different versions of the same event. I miss teaching there solely for this reason, that history classes were always viewed as being important and everyone wanted to learn. Yes, the kids argued and at times it was frightening (when you are discussing terroism knowing that one kid has lost a parent due to it and several others have parents in the terroist organisation responsible) but it was so obviously important. Schools were one of the only places were a chance of a new shared identity could be created and for that to happen kids needed to understand both interpretations and why they existed. I was fortunate in that the curriculum prescribed the study of Ireland's past and that I was in schools were they encouraged debate. I know of other schools which only taught one interpretation of the past which in my mind is extremely irresponsible, dangerous and to be honest, cowardly.

I don't know if any of this is even relevant. If you can't discuss it for legal reasons then I suppose there isn't much you can do. However, I just wanted to say that if you have the chance to teach the students about their past and that past is controversial then I would grab it in any way you can. Being able to discuss these issues in a safe place is vital. It also obviously goes right to the heart of history. Interpretations, bias, nationality, debate, role of government, propaganda, censorship, collective memory...............

Maybe you could teach the official version and then set them the task of finding evidence to challenge it but not teach them the information explicitly, that way you are giving them the opportunity to learn a more accurate version of the past but will hopefully not get into trouble for it. I don't know, that is an incredibly tricky situation.

What is the school's policy on this? Is there a desire to challenge the Government's prescription?

Like I said, I'm overseas now and very fortunate in that the Goverment does prescribe an official history but this is taught in a separate class in spanish and the history class I teach is not under the same restrictions so I can teach what I want. However, the Government doesn't take any account of international results, only the ones taken in the prescribed classes so the kids don't take it as seriously. It's interesting too how the kids respond. The students who love the prescribed multiple choice view taught in the other class struggle immensely in my class when they have to think for themselves and deal with the 'grey areas'. They normally choose not to carry on with me, especially not for IB. The ones who find the official history frustrating usually excel in IB history because they are seething that they are required to choose the 'correct' response out of a choice of 4 on the main cause of WW1 in the state exam system and can't wait to get into what THEY think and why.

Do you teach IGCSE or IB? Is there anyway you could teach the past more accurately within those courses?


#6 Martin_M


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Posted 03 December 2011 - 04:43 PM

It isn't like 'You are not allowed to teach the history from the regional point of view because you'll go to jail' ;) (but it looked a bit like that in the communist times!). Now of course it's legal for the teacher to tell at the lesson whatever he wants to tell but, without right support, most of teachers prefer to avoid these topics.
Of course,I know many dozens of history teachers who are very passionate about our regional history and they do a great job in teaching it. But there are also thousands of teachers who aren't sure what should they teach,whether should they teach it at all,how should they do it etc. The effect is: most of our children don't know any famous person from our region's history, have no idea about significant events etc. They know Polish history,not the history of the land where they grandparents and their grandparents used to live.

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