How do you teach “History”? Israeli Ministry of Education apparently solved this puzzle. The solution: It’s not the contents, but rather the title, that matters.
I’ve been volunteering for several months, helping small children in the age of 10 years or so with their homework from school. Many of them attend what is known as the Israeli “National Religious” school system.
One might think it’s alright to teach religious contents in a religious school. After all, where else would one teach it better? Still, I felt uneasy with some of the material. It took me a while to figure out what’s wrong: The contents are religious indeed, but the title for that specific course and accompanying book is… ‘History’.
Thus, small children at age of 10 years learn in the same page of their “History” book that King David was the father of King Solomon, and that God promised David a long-lasting kingdom. In another page they learn that King Solomon built the first Jewish Temple, and that God chose him to do so for certain reasons. Altogether, they learn that the Bible is literally pure history. The book, by the way, is said to be officially approved by the Israeli Ministry of Education.
In a way, this is like teaching that the Sun and stars circle Earth, under the title of ‘Science’. Being a nation that struggles to maintain historical memories, we should exercise increased caution in teaching history properly.