‘There is no better unifier than a common enemy’ – politicians know this lesson well. Their problem is that during the early 1990s, the ‘Red Scare’ ceased to exist. Interestingly enough, in the west a form of national disintegration is visible not much later. For if ‘we’ are no longer (unified) against the Soviet Union, then who are ‘we’? What is our national identity?
In the Netherlands that question is answered by concentrating on the national history. The government now puts emphasis on the need for a thorough knowledge and understanding of Dutch history. It has the ambition to educate its young with an entirely new and fresh historical curriculum. A political committee is charged with the task of developing such a curriculum. They do their work and the Dutch youth from now on has to go through a brand new approach to historical education.
However – one question remains unanswered… what is Dutch history? Which are the key developments in Dutch history – can the state answer that question? Yes, it can! The only thing that is needed… is a new historical committee!
…and that committee comes up with what is known today as ‘the historical canon’ – a collection of 50 key developments that every Dutch inhabitant should know.
During this ‘mini-course’ we explore in 4 lectures why this plan was developed and what are the 50 key developments in Dutch history:
In lesson 1 we look at the hilarious mess members of the House of Parliament made of their own Dutch history in 1996, after having been asked to do a Dutch history test. This prompts rapid changes in the attitude of the government vis-à-vis historical education. Committees are set up and not one but two new historical education systems are set up. I’ll give you a quick overview of them.
In lesson 2 we look at which six prehistoric and mediaeval developments were selected as ‘windows’ on pre-modern history in the Netherlands. We’ll also discuss half of the 20 developments in early modern history that ‘matter’ according to the historians the state hired to freeze Dutch identity into a national history.
In lesson 3 we’ll ‘do’ the other half of early modern Dutch key developments and focus on what modern times brought Dutch national history.
In lesson 4 we’ll have a look at modern and contemporary history. Which historical developments matter today and why… and which role does the ‘historical canon’ – as presented to the government in 2006 – play today? Let’s ask ourselves this question: ‘Can it be a better unifier than a common enemy?’
This course consists of four lectures that are given on Fridays from 10 AM to 12:15 PM at the ‘De Roos’-teahouse on P.C. Hooftstraat 183 (right inside the Vondelpark on your left hand). The course starts on Friday May 12th 2017 and ends on Friday June 7th 2017. There will be no class on Friday May 26th.
A free digital syllabus is available shortly before the start of the course.