Remembering, Forgetting and the Stories We Tell

This was originally posted on Teaching the Past

Last week, as I was writing a review of Adele Perry’s and Esyllt Jones’s recently released People’s Citizenship Guide, an article in The Washington Post caught my eye.

Afghanistan is about to launch a new public school history curriculum aimed at building peace and unity.  In an effort to build national unity, the new curriculum will only discuss events leading up to 1973.  Afghan students will not learn about the divisive subjects of Communism and the Soviet War, the Mujahedeen, the Taliban or the past decade of the American-led War on Terror.

As a historian, I generally disagree with attempts to avoid teaching controversial subjects. The high stakes involved in this decision, however, caused me to pause and reflect on the review exercise in which I was engaged.

The People’s Citizenship Guide is a direct response to the Government of Canada’s controversial Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship.  Jones and Perry’s book closely parallels the government guide.  It is about the same length, it addresses the same subject matter, and seeks to serve a similar purpose – informing Canadians (and soon-to-be Canadians) of the country’s past and present situation.  Continue reading “Remembering, Forgetting and the Stories We Tell”