History is being forgotten.
David Wall writes:
As the Irish education system is revamped and modernised an issue that slipped below the radar was the relegation of History to being an option subject.
Students will no longer have to learn about The Age of Exploration (slavery and empire) The Reformation (religious intolerance) Victorian child labour (the creation of workers’ rights) or World War II (the dangers of a democratically elected demagogue who builds a platform built on intolerance and hate…)
At junior cert we learn about Celts right up to modern-day Europe and Ireland. We are given a grounding, thin as it may be, in how the world has become what it is. We develop a sense of self and begin to question why things are as they are.
The junior cert might not allow for depth of study but it grants us with an understanding of who and what we are. It provides us with opportunities to question and challenge the structures of the world, it allows us to form our own identity and it provides the capacity to realise that marching under the swastika possibly isn’t the best way to present an argument.
Students are armed with the skills of considering fact vs fiction. They focus what propaganda is and how to question sources. They are introduced to the skills necessary to combat lies and hate and develop the capacity to think for themselves.
They no longer have to do this.
The protests and counter-protests in America have served to scratch at the thin skin of social inclusivity within America. If the images from recent weeks of young white men with neatly parted hair illuminated by flaming torches were in black and white we could have safely assumed they were of rallies and marches in 1930s Germany.
They weren’t. This is America; Land of the Brave and Home of the Free, 2017.The anger and hate contorting the faces of these young men beneath the swastika encapsulates a damaged society. That the violence and hate is so closely linked to events in living memory is frightening.
A rudimentary Junior Cert education tells us what dangers to expect.
A combination of historical amnesia, willful ignorance and blatant hate has bloomed within American society in recent weeks. This is not an earth-shattering revelation, accepted, but it is a moment of truth.
The speed with which history repeats itself is terrifying. We are teetering on an abyss as the ground fragments beneath our scrabbling feet. Whether this is overly dramatic or not, the sentiment is clear: the study and understanding of our history is not an option.
David Wall is a freelance writer