Saturday, September 11, 2004

Teaching about Western Europe

Teaching about Western Europe. This is an essay which details ways that teachers can instruct American students about European history.

From the site:

Despite the urgent need to address the very real concerns of today's minorities, the development of the United States has been so closely related to the fortunes of Western Europe that it is almost impossible to keep the subject out of the curriculum. The notion of independence is a key component of American tradition, but many of our political and cultural institutions mirror those of "the old country." Elements of Western civilization emerge in any consideration of American art, literature, and thought. The historical study of almost any American phenomenon requires at least a look at the West European background against which it emerged.

Until the very end of the 19th century, the vast majority of the immigrants arriving in the United States came essentially from Western Europe. Thus the European experience is part of the very fabric of culture in the United States. Sadly, much of the linguistic wealth of the immigrants was lost in the melting pot, but today language teaching is as vigorous as it has ever been, and many modern languages taught in our schools have their roots in Western Europe.

In geography, economics, and history, Western Europe offers a breadth and variety of different social, political, industrial, financial, and legal systems that can be explored as individual cases or as comparative entities or, again, as parts of a cohesive whole. Looking backwards, Western Europe can be viewed as a sum of knowledge and experience. Looking forward it can provide indicators for future trends in our own country. Its study, therefore, has immediate relevance to a great many teaching areas.

No comments: