History and Globalization: An Academic Pursue

History and Globalization: An Academic Pursue

In a world ravaged by new technology, one must wonder what will become of the discipline of History in our education systems: will millennials praise the growth of mankind, or will we keep on teaching our children that the wonders of their own Nations overcome those of the world?
From ever since children start school, from such a young age as five or six, they are taught the History of their own country, from the first gregarious communities to occupy the territory up until modern History. Yet, the core points of every History programme remain the same: “how did we affect the world?”, “How did we, as a society, evolved?”, “What happened to us?”
As much as one argues that national identity is something primary to every men or woman, globalization is a phenomena not to be ignored, and the Global Village, anchored on the Internet, is the new Nation that gathers all with access to the World Wide Web. However, world education leaders seem to purposely overlook the facts, and insist on leaving it in the hands of the younger to discover that there is a world out there, with History as rich as their own.
For a better understanding of this issue, let us point out two education systems that differ when it comes to relating national History and World History, and offer a possibility to “cover” the plot of World History in students’ curricula.
On the one hand, in England, a new subject programme was implemented in 2014, named “National Curriculum”, specifying what British students must study and what they should be learning at different ages. Even though the History programme refers the need to “gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world”1, students must focus their attention on British History: local history, the Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings in Britain, Britain and the wider world in Tudor times, Victorian Britain and Britain since 1930.
In Portugal, on the other hand, secondary school is divided in five areas of interest, each with specific compulsory subjects. The History programme2 relies on modules that will first provide the student with political, economic, and social context for every Age, and then introduce the country’s situation given said context. This programme’s main pretence is for the student to “develop a sense of self-criticism, the ability to accept different opinions and to recognise the existence of various working modules of society.”3 Yet, the issue remains: although Portuguese students have a clear image of what Europe as a whole has lived since the invention of Democracy, the rest of the world is a mystery until the 16th century. And even then, History programmes pursue a European-centred perspective.
These self-centred perspectives result, as Europe well knows, in a strong sense of nationalism, in an honest belief that our home country is the best of the entire world, this feeling often being expressed as arrogance and suspicion towards foreigners. It was this feeling of superiority that led to the advent of two world wars that left nothing behind but grieve and destruction.
The question now is how to prevent such feelings from forming? Investigators Robert Bain and Tamara Shreiner from Michigan University claim the answer to these concerns relies
on the creation of a new subject, a World History subject. In the USA, this is a high school subject, growing more and more popular every year. However, the teaching in these classes still goes much on a “Hollywood-based” view of History, opposing to the purest form of historicism Education Ministers should provide.
According to the authors, in order to make sure that World History is about the whole world, and not just the Western part, it is necessary to divide the subject in 4 independent structural patterns that, together, provide students with the most information about World History. They are: “World Civilization Plus”, which offers an expanded version of a familiar narrative that focuses on the development of civilization in the West, specifically Europe; “Social Studies World History”, which offers a multidisciplinary approach to broad themes such as “Time, Continuity, and Change,” but which still does not challenge the “Europe as the Center of the World Model”; “Geographic/Regional World History”, which considers change over time in differing regions and sometimes braids these strands together in separate courses on Africa, East Asia, South Asia, or Latin America in addition to a broadly based world history course; and “Global World History”, which the authors describe as a synthesis of “trans-regional and civilizational studies” that requires students to “look at and across regions of the world.”4
It is fair to wonder whether teaching such a subject is enough to erase the distrustful feelings that mandated international interpersonal relationships over the past few millennia. Ever since Ancient Greece, Xenophon argued that closed societies were better than open societies. Discussion on this topic has not evolved much since 500 B.C. However, it is also fair to argue that World History would help young students to understand other cultural options and thus, to more easily accept different views of the world.

Xenophon: Ancient Greek philosopher, argued that closed societies were better than open societies

This is not an easy discussion. There are numerous arguments in favour and against a subject such as World History. Apart from those already presented, one might ask how to ensure impartiality from those talking of History, given that there are always two sides to the same story. Even if we argue that World History should always be presented through both perspectives, the winning and the loosing, we are still left with the natural inability of Men to not take sides. These are questions we are far from answering with all due certainty.
The examples to prove this phenomena are more than well-documented. If a British student were to travel across the Ocean and discuss British History with fellow North-American students, he would be confronted with a certain difficulty, since what Americans call the “Independence War” is known to the British as the “Colonial Insurgence”. Moving Easter, the Second World War was known as the “Great Patriotic War” in soviet countries for many years.
However important National History might be in building a person’s character, providing them with knowledge that derives directly from their ancestor’s way of life it is fair to wonder how can anyone be expected to discuss, open-minded, freely, about subjects such as History, if they were never given the chance to study, in school, under an advisor and among their peers, the existence of other perspectives, different from their own?
The answer is, they cannot. That is why we advocate a European History subject, directed mostly to high schoolers. Hopefully, the understanding of Europe’s historical evolution as a highly interactive block, with more in common than in difference, will reinforce the bond that unites all of Europe under the same flag of peace and development for all. Consequently, it would diminish the nationalistic and xenophobic feelings that are spreading throughout Europe, today, as it would bring closer the various nations that form the Old World, as a single world, made of different opinions, based on discussion and the well-being of its population.


About the author 


Leonor Frade

Leonor Frade (18) participated in the “My Europe” Workshop in Lisbon in 2014. She has since then been a member of the working group on Gender Equality and now writes for the Education group. She is a Law student and enjoys discussions about politics, education, employment, science and philosophy. She presents the result of those discussions in short essays and hopes you will enjoy them. 



1 – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-historyprogrammes-of-study/national-curriculum-in-england-history-programmes-of-study, on december 5th 2017
2 – http://www.dge.mec.pt/sites/default/files/Secundario/Documentos/Documentos_Disciplinas_ novo/Curso_Linguas_e_Humanidades/historia_a_10_11_12.pdf, on december 5th 2017
3 – http://www.dge.mec.pt/sites/default/files/Secundario/Documentos/Documentos_Disciplinas_ novo/Curso_Linguas_e_Humanidades/historia_a_10_11_12.pdf, on december 5th 2017
4 – Robert B. Bain and Tamara L. Shreiner, “Issues and Options in Creating a National Assessment in World History,” History Teacher 38:2 (February 2005), 241–72

“Teach, Not Preach!”

"My Europe" press conference in Madrid with the speakers of the working groups Anathea, Simona, Alex, Miguel and Leonor, founder Prof. Pohl and Youth Council for the Future chairwoman Alessandra (from left to right), Spotlight Europe
“My Europe” press conference in Madrid with the speakers of the working groups Anathea, Simona, Alex, Miguel and Leonor, founder Prof. Pohl and Youth Council for the Future chairwoman Alessandra (from left to right).

The Get2Gather of all Youth Council for the Future members took place from 23-26 April 2015 in Madrid. Together, the young Europeans elaborated on calls to actions for European decision-makers in order to help build a peaceful and sustainable Europe for future generations. Miguel is the speaker of the working group “Religion” and he held the following speech during the press conference:

Despite our discussions, the Religions Working Group has many questions and few answers – such is religion. Indeed, much of what the things I am about to say will sound like clichés or platitudes, but they remain important and worthy of saying.

I am not religious. Neither are many of you.

I am not a Catholic or a Protestant. I am not a Sunni or a Shi’a. I am not a Mahayana or a Therevada. But religion affects me. It shapes the world I live in, the way I speak, the way I see the world.

“Religion shapes the world I live in”

Since the Enlightenment, Europe has grapples with how to deal with religion. What place does it occupy in society, in public relations? How do we guarantee protection for all faiths?

Whatever answer we give to these questions, and there’s no shortage of answers, we must understand this: religion is not going away, and religion will not be side-lined.

These questions are most pressing when we consider the problem of religious extremism. How do we respond to this threat?

By bringing it out into the open. Religion must be brought into the public forum. And for this we must create an open space – a space in which the youth can become acquainted with various religions and discuss them. We need a comprehensive and objective religious education.

Public education exists to create citizens of a society and of a world. And for that, we must learn about this world of religions, just as we learn about other domains.

Miguel, Spotlight Europe

Students should become familiar with the history and ideas of major world religions, because these are forces that shape our world, across all continents. Schools must teach, not preach, while collaborating at the same time with religious communities to provide a broad and informative religious education.

In this Internet Age we live in, it is becoming easier and easier to live in a self-imposed bubble. Young people flock to online communities where their views are repeated, and where radicalization can take place. An open, discussion-driven religious education can provide a place for views to be shared and prejudices shattered.

Another matter is radicalization. The causes of religious radicalization are many and quite controversial, but they are not entirely religious. There are social conditions that foster radicalization.

Conditions in low-income neighbourhoods must be bettered. There must be better social care in these areas, and dialogue between communities and police.

“to shy away from a frank debate on religion is to capitulate on one of the present’s most pressing matters”

Stepping back now from the topic of religious education and extremism, we find that society must review the way it talks about religion. There is constant pressure not to talk about sensitive issues in a constructive manner: some rely on provocation, others use euphemisms, most stay silent. However, to shy away from a frank debate on religion is to capitulate on one of the present’s most pressing matters.

So I say: I am not religious.

I am not a Christian, nor a Muslim, nor a Jew. In truth, My creed is irrelevant. What I want, what, indeed, we all want is to have a Europe that is at once more tolerant, more open, and more knowledgeable.

Through education we banish conceit, through integration we weaken discrimination, and through dialogue we encourage a better world and a better life.

There are very few of us here, very few out of a community of 500 million. I wish we had brought more. But perhaps we can do some good. Let us follow the true spirit of religion, let us unite!


Thank you.

About the author:
Miguel Ribeiro, Spotlight Europe

Miguel (18) participated in the “My Europe” workshop in Lisbon in Novemver 2014. 

Speak Out

Two women on the street talking to each other. Both are dressed in long coats, Spotlight Europe
“My mother said ‘That’s my coat.’ The woman answered with a laugh. ‘No it’s not, it’s mine and very expensive’’. She meant that my mother could never afford that kind of coat.” (Flickr: randallo/licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

I am sitting at the school bench and thinking about what to write. It’s an early Tuesday morning and I can’t find anything that I think is a problem in the EU. My thoughts are spinning around in my head but suddenly I am starting to think about my parents, about immigration in the EU. My mother is from Iraq and my dad is from Bosnia, they were coming to Sweden about twenty years ago. They both have their stories that I love to listen too, but if I have to connect one of their stories with the EU, it will probably be my mother’s.

My mother has had a fulfilling childhood. In her family it was very important that you reveived a good education. So she became an engineer. It was the beginning of the war and my mother and her family needed to leave their country. I could tell you her story about her trip, but it would not tell you anything about the EU.

When my mother came to Sweden she was sad that she had lost her career. She had no job, not so much money but she made the best of it. She started cleaning to get money. During that time she has met my dad. She cleaned about 10 hours a day but still had not much food on the table.

“It was not any coat you could buy anywhere.”

My dad liked to surprise my mother, so one day when she was coming home from a day of cleaning he gave her ’’that coat’’. It was not any coat you could buy anywhere. It was the coat my mother saw in the glass window in the very famous luxury gallery that has its name ’’NK’’ in Stockholm. It was too expensive for my mum to buy it.

Next day it was cleaning time. She was going to clean a big house where a very rich family lived. This woman who lived there had a career and looked down on people like my mother who didn’t have much money.

My mum wore her very expensive coat that day and she had left it in the hall. This woman was going out to run an errand. While she was putting on her shoes she took my mother’s coat on. My mother said ’’That’s my coat.’’ The woman answered with a laugh ’’No it’s not, it’s mine and very expensive’’. She meant that my mother could never afford that kind of coat. My mother asked her to look for the size. The woman saw that my mum was right. It was her coat. She left it and walked out without saying a word.

“Don’t let your career ever take over your self-esteem.”

Your education is important but don’t let your career ever take over your self-esteem. Today my mother is working at an office. We are neither rich nor poor. My parents always want that we get everything they can afford.

Maybe you wonder what my mother’s story has to do with the EU? I want to confirm that it’s a tragedy how society is built. We are all human beings, why don’t we act like that? You who’s reading this, you are a part of society, we all are. Never think that someone is better than you because they’re not.

My EU 2030 would be different when it comes to society and education. Your career is telling you who you are today: If you have a bad job there are always people who will look down on you and you will feel that you’re not their ’’level’’. That is scaring me.

In 2030 the EU parliament should start an project about how we can save society. It will organize events around the EU area and you will get to know people from the different layers of society. And if you come from a country with education you will have the opportunity to still have a job.

“I want 2030 to be released from the word snob, poor and average.”

I want 2030 to be released from the word snob, poor and average. If we look back at my mother’s story we can see that even if she had been rich or poor she would never have been rude to someone. It’s about respect. Maybe you wonder why you need to care? Well, my mother grew up privileged in the beginning before her life changed so drastically. It can also happen to you. Tomorrow there could be a war in your country and you will be in the situation where you have to leave everything.

One of the foremost reasons to create the EU was that they wanted a world with peace. If we let down on society and our education we will never find that ’’Peace’’ we are looking for. It’s not too late to build up a society with more opportunities and it’s not too late to build up a ‘’healthier’’ society either. We all earn this.

I was relating to my mother because this is how the reality looks like. With my article I wanted to confirm that showing respect in society and having more choices in the job market should be a more important discussion in the EU parliament.

About the author:
Melissa Haurdic, Spotlight Europe
Melissa – Author at Spotlight Europe

Melissa participated in the “My Europe” workshop in Stockholm in November 2014. She goes to the ESS-gymnasiet in Stockholm.