History & Literature – Essay from Examiners 2018
Some people believe that it is more important to teach children the literature and history of their own country, rather than the literature and history of other countries.
To what extent do you agree or disagree?
People have different views about the teaching of national versus global literature and history in schools. Personally, I support the idea that children should study first and foremost the great books and historical events of their own countries.
There are several reasons why I believe that schools should focus on teaching national literature and history. Firstly, children enjoy learning about where they live, and by studying the ideas, culture and history of their own countries they begin to develop a sense of identity. At the same time, this approach is appealing to parents, who studied the same books and historical events and can therefore help their children with school work. English children, for example, read Shakespeare and learn about the Battle of Hastings just as their parents did, and there is educational continuity across the generations. Finally, an emphasis on national literature and history gives educators a narrower teaching scope, making curriculum design an easier task.
By contrast, the study of global events and foreign novels could cause unnecessary difficulty and confusion for school pupils. For example, I do not see the point in presenting Russian or Chinese history to a British child who has not yet studied the history of his or her own country in detail. Surely the child would be more able to comprehend historical events that took place in London than those that happened in Moscow or Beijing. Similarly, any exposure to international literature is likely to require the teaching of a foreign language or the use of translations. Young people at primary or secondary school age are simply not ready for such complications.
In conclusion, I would argue that it is undesirable for schools to cover aspects of foreign history and literature; they should ground their pupils in the local culture instead.