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Problems of Humanity - Chapter II - The Problem of the Children of the World
We are today witnessing the slow but steady formation of international groups, banded together to preserve world security, to protect labor, to deal with world economics and to preserve the integrity and the sovereignty of nations whilst committing each and all to a definite part in the work of securing right human relations throughout the planet. Whether we agree or not with the details or the specific commitments proposed, the formation of international advisory councils, and above all, of the United Nations, are hopeful indications of the moving forward of humanity into a [43] world where right human relations are regarded as essential to the peace of the world, where goodwill is recognized and where provision is made for the implementing of those conditions which will prevent war and aggression.

In the field of education some such united action is also essential. Surely a basic unity of objectives should govern the educational systems of the nations, even though uniformity of method and of techniques may not be possible. Differences of language, of background and of culture will and should always exist; they constitute the beautiful tapestry of human living down the ages. But much that has hitherto militated against right human relations must and should be eliminated.

In the teaching of history, for instance, are we to revert to the old ways wherein each nation glorifies itself at the expense frequently of other nations, in which facts are systematically garbled, in which the pivotal points in history are the various wars down the ages - a history, therefore, of aggression, of the rise of a material and selfish civilization and one which has fed the nationalistic and, therefore, separate spirit, which has fostered racial hatreds and stimulated national prides? The first historical date usually remembered by the average British child is "William, the Conqueror, 1066". The American child remembers the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers and the gradual taking of the country from its rightful inhabitants and perhaps the Boston Tea Party. The heroes of history are all warriors - Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Attila the Hun, Richard Coeur de Lion, Napoleon, George Washington and many others. Geography is largely history in another form but presented in a similar manner - a history of discovery, investigation and seizure, followed frequently by wicked and cruel treatment of the inhabitants of the discovered lands. Greed, ambition, [44] cruelty and pride are the keynotes of our teaching of history and geography.

The wars, aggressions and thefts which have distinguished every great nation without exception are facts and cannot be denied. Surely, however, the lessons of the evils which they wrought (culminating in the war 1914-1945) can be pointed out and the ancient causes of present day prejudices and dislikes can be shown and their futility emphasized. Is it not possible to build our theory of history upon the great and good ideas which have conditioned the nations and made them what they are? To emphasize the creativity which has distinguished all of them? Can we not present more effectively the great cultural epochs which - suddenly appearing in some one nation - enriched the entire world and gave to humanity its literature, its art and its vision?

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