Joint French-German History Textbook

St Disibod

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Economist report.

Financial Times report: registration required, but the first two paragraphs are there.

France and Germany have launched a joint History textbook, naturally one edition in French and another in German, for students preparing for the Baccalaureat and Abitur qualifications. It was compiled by ten teachers- five nationals apiece- and though there were some wrangles over transatlantic relations and a bit of trouble with translation (such as to whether culture means kulture or bildung)- it has been warmly received by politicians and commentators alike.

It deals with 1945 onwards, for fairly obvious reasons, but even still agreeing a joint history textbook is no mean feat. But is it a desirable direction for the teaching of history?

Though particular to this case with good cause, the limitation of a history course to post-1945 seems a bit pointless. People draw the line at all sorts of points- the collapse of the Soviet Union is probably the most utilised- but in political history (which is generally the bulk of school syllabi) I prefer the 30 year rule as so many Government records are held back for that duration. Historical study can be of use much closer to the present day, especially given the speed that memoirs are published these days, but any work on things so close to home will almost definitely have to be re-written when state papers are released. So that would limit a post-1945 book to just 31 years of history that will not definitely require year-by-year reassessment as the years role by.

Another problem is historical approach- I tend to find German historiography ugly and off-putting. You can blame the Krauts for those essays in the Junior Cert were you had to write a journal entry for a medieval peasant, because of course peasants in 1100 were likely to go home, light a candle, pull out some paper and a pot of ink, dip their quill and jot down their day's proceedings.

But what do other people think? Given the enthusiasm that has greeted the publication of this book, should Ireland jump on the bandwagon? I think our size relative to England would make a joint effort in that direction a non-starter, before taking into account differences of opinion. But should a European history textbook be encouraged for secondary school students, or should we keep to our own national approaches?
 


BarryW

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What's the book called? "Don't Mention the Wars!!"

There have been some classic PC attempts to paper over thgier unpleasant past relations, but that's the silliest thing thing yet.

The study of history depends on the perspective you view it from. I don't see how you can mash two versions together into a politically correct consensus
 

Pidge

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BarryW said:
The study of history depends on the perspective you view it from.
It does now, but don't you think that that's something worth minimising?
 

BarryW

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Pidge said:
It does now, but don't you think that that's something worth minimising?
I don't see why. Remember that people's political views also depend on the perspectives they view it from.

A logical extension of what you're suggesting is that we should try to minimise political disagreement also, and achieve political consensus on all issues - which wouldn't necessarily be a good thing
 

jady88

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St Disibod said:
Economist report.

Financial Times report: registration required, but the first two paragraphs are there.

France and Germany have launched a joint History textbook, naturally one edition in French and another in German, for students preparing for the Baccalaureat and Abitur qualifications. It was compiled by ten teachers- five nationals apiece- and though there were some wrangles over transatlantic relations and a bit of trouble with translation (such as to whether culture means kulture or bildung)- it has been warmly received by politicians and commentators alike.

It deals with 1945 onwards, for fairly obvious reasons, but even still agreeing a joint history textbook is no mean feat. But is it a desirable direction for the teaching of history?

Though particular to this case with good cause, the limitation of a history course to post-1945 seems a bit pointless. People draw the line at all sorts of points- the collapse of the Soviet Union is probably the most utilised- but in political history (which is generally the bulk of school syllabi) I prefer the 30 year rule as so many Government records are held back for that duration. Historical study can be of use much closer to the present day, especially given the speed that memoirs are published these days, but any work on things so close to home will almost definitely have to be re-written when state papers are released. So that would limit a post-1945 book to just 31 years of history that will not definitely require year-by-year reassessment as the years role by.

Another problem is historical approach- I tend to find German historiography ugly and off-putting. You can blame the Krauts for those essays in the Junior Cert were you had to write a journal entry for a medieval peasant, because of course peasants in 1100 were likely to go home, light a candle, pull out some paper and a pot of ink, dip their quill and jot down their day's proceedings.

But what do other people think? Given the enthusiasm that has greeted the publication of this book, should Ireland jump on the bandwagon? I think our size relative to England would make a joint effort in that direction a non-starter, before taking into account differences of opinion. But should a European history textbook be encouraged for secondary school students, or should we keep to our own national approaches?
I think we should stick to our national history, I mean as it is we learn huge amounts about these other nations. As time goes by one finds that the national history is more like a cross reference of nations anyway.
 

St Disibod

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Catalpa said:
Can't wait for the one dealing with 1914-1945.
Official guidelines for European school history syllabi, illustrated
 

Indyjoe

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Interesting, but I dont think i like the idea. Books that are written for more than one state would have to leave out or quickly pass through issues so as not to offend. Or if it was on, say, a european scale then it would have to include some particulars about every country to keep everyone happy.


Our secondary school texts books are fairly censored as it is. I remember the timespan only went up to 1969 (for obvious reasons) and important episodes such as the civil war got a paragraph. I recently read my little sister's textbook for the junior cert and its a disgrace. There is a section on the war in the north and it actually reads "The provisional IRA engaged in a campaign of violence against protestants, the RUC, and even the British army(my italics)."
Now whatever one thinks of the morality of the IRA's campaign, firstly it is historical fact that the campaign was not directed against protestants (which is not to say that violence against protestants did not happen) and secondly how can one say 'even the British army,' as if somehow if is worse to target paid soldiers as civilians. Ive written to the publisher and to my sisters school on the issue.

Sorry for going off on a tangent, but if anyone has the main textbok for junior cert history they should look at the 'Northern Ireland' section. This sort of thing seems to be getting worse rather than better.
 

jady88

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Indyjoe said:
Interesting, but I dont think i like the idea. Books that are written for more than one state would have to leave out or quickly pass through issues so as not to offend. Or if it was on, say, a european scale then it would have to include some particulars about every country to keep everyone happy.


Our secondary school texts books are fairly censored as it is. I remember the timespan only went up to 1969 (for obvious reasons) and important episodes such as the civil war got a paragraph. I recently read my little sister's textbook for the junior cert and its a disgrace. There is a section on the war in the north and it actually reads "The provisional IRA engaged in a campaign of violence against protestants, the RUC, and even the British army(my italics)."
Now whatever one thinks of the morality of the IRA's campaign, firstly it is historical fact that the campaign was not directed against protestants (which is not to say that violence against protestants did not happen) and secondly how can one say 'even the British army,' as if somehow if is worse to target paid soldiers as civilians. Ive written to the publisher and to my sisters school on the issue.

Sorry for going off on a tangent, but if anyone has the main textbok for junior cert history they should look at the 'Northern Ireland' section. This sort of thing seems to be getting worse rather than better.
Badly worded clearly but nonetheless it is trying to point out the deeply sectarin nature of the conflict. Which can't be ignored now SF want to seem all multi-cultural.
 

Marx

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Second Level History is too standardised. No one in University would tell you read one book about a certain period and that will do.
 

jady88

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Marx said:
Second Level History is too standardised. No one in University would tell you read one book about a certain period and that will do.
Yeah but there are huge differences between second level and Uni
 

Marx

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jady88 said:
Marx said:
Second Level History is too standardised. No one in University would tell you read one book about a certain period and that will do.
Yeah but there are huge differences between second level and Uni
Yes of course but there is no encouragement to go beyond the standard text book.
 

jady88

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Marx said:
jady88 said:
Marx said:
Second Level History is too standardised. No one in University would tell you read one book about a certain period and that will do.
Yeah but there are huge differences between second level and Uni
Yes of course but there is no encouragement to go beyond the standard text book.
No not realy but you are encouraged to analyze sources and that, and in LC 20 percent goes for creation o aproject in which a multitude o sources is a requirement.
 

Marx

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jady88 said:
Marx said:
jady88 said:
Marx said:
Second Level History is too standardised. No one in University would tell you read one book about a certain period and that will do.
Yeah but there are huge differences between second level and Uni
Yes of course but there is no encouragement to go beyond the standard text book.
No not realy but you are encouraged to analyze sources and that, and in LC 20 percent goes for creation o aproject in which a multitude o sources is a requirement.
I know I did the project myself when I was at school but it is still focused only on a certain area.
 

Passionateheart

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How's about Ireland and Britain producing a joint !. In so far as i know in the North there's an initiative where children from each side are primarily taught the opposite side's perspective on the conflict in history classes!
 


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