Financial Times report: registration required, but the first two paragraphs are there.
France and Germany have launched a joint History textbook, naturally one edition in French and another in German, for students preparing for the Baccalaureat and Abitur qualifications. It was compiled by ten teachers- five nationals apiece- and though there were some wrangles over transatlantic relations and a bit of trouble with translation (such as to whether culture means kulture or bildung)- it has been warmly received by politicians and commentators alike.
It deals with 1945 onwards, for fairly obvious reasons, but even still agreeing a joint history textbook is no mean feat. But is it a desirable direction for the teaching of history?
Though particular to this case with good cause, the limitation of a history course to post-1945 seems a bit pointless. People draw the line at all sorts of points- the collapse of the Soviet Union is probably the most utilised- but in political history (which is generally the bulk of school syllabi) I prefer the 30 year rule as so many Government records are held back for that duration. Historical study can be of use much closer to the present day, especially given the speed that memoirs are published these days, but any work on things so close to home will almost definitely have to be re-written when state papers are released. So that would limit a post-1945 book to just 31 years of history that will not definitely require year-by-year reassessment as the years role by.
Another problem is historical approach- I tend to find German historiography ugly and off-putting. You can blame the Krauts for those essays in the Junior Cert were you had to write a journal entry for a medieval peasant, because of course peasants in 1100 were likely to go home, light a candle, pull out some paper and a pot of ink, dip their quill and jot down their day's proceedings.
But what do other people think? Given the enthusiasm that has greeted the publication of this book, should Ireland jump on the bandwagon? I think our size relative to England would make a joint effort in that direction a non-starter, before taking into account differences of opinion. But should a European history textbook be encouraged for secondary school students, or should we keep to our own national approaches?