As part of my (Canadian) high school’s Social Studies (read: history and government) curriculum, everything we study has a distinctly Canadian bias. This means that, while we cover major events of the twentieth century like World Wars I and II and the Depression, they’re all from a purely Canadian perspective, and certain events that didn’t involve Canada aren’t covered at all (ie, the Bolshevik Revolution or rise of communism in China).
It’s understandable that history classes in any country would have a bias towards the events that have had major impacts on said country… but it can go too far, as it has done in my class.
For instance, the local textbook that we use in class has a single chapter on World War II, and Winston Churchill is mentioned once within. This is the quotation: “British Prime Minister Winston Churchill recognized the importance of this outcome.” This is in relation to the Battle of the Atlantic, and it’s the only sentence about Churchill in the textbook. Nothing about fighting on the beaches, no finest hour, no blood, toil, tears and sweat… Churchill is just one name among many mentioned in passing. How can we spend two weeks covering WWII and exclude Winston Churchill?
It’s probably the same phenomenon that would explain why we don’t get a single sentence about Pearl Harbor, and the two atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are given a quick paragraph at the end of the chapter as a sort of afterthought. By the way, the most devastating bombs ever used in warfare were dropped on Japan afterwards, but let’s move on to Canada’s post-war economy because that’s much more important than the devastation and cultural impact it had on Japan. The fact that the uranium used in the bombs was mined in Canada was given two lengthy paragraphs about the owners of the mine and the process of mining, but the actual dropping of the bombs and its impact on Japan were squashed into one small paragraph at the end. Hmmmmm.
I think if Winston Churchill and Hiroshima get only a few sentences between them in a whole unit dedicated to World War II while Canadian miners get two paragraphs about the mining of uranium, we’re somehow missing the point.
EDIT 03/18/07: Well, I had the final exam for the World War II unit. Silly me studied battles, the sequence of events, important figures, technological advances, and cultural impacts. An impressive zero questions on the exam asked about any of these things (or anything else pertaining to the actual WWII). The exam thought it was more important that I leave with the knowledge of who the Canadian Minister of Munitions and Supplies was at the time and why the Liberals had a difficult time staying in office. To each country their own, I suppose.