No. 22




Education and National Identity as Shapers of Social Coherence

15 December 2010


RiTo No. 22, 2010

The article discusses the potential of general education as a developer of the coherence of the Estonian society and as a shaper of national identity on the basis of the subjects of mother tongue, literature, music, history and civic education.

Identity is viewed as collective belonging to a community. All general education subjects have a certain role and potential in the development of a person’s world view and socialisation in a wider sense. The authors consider the general education school a tool of education policy which enables the adoption of desired identities (for example, loyalty to one’s own state) and rejection of undesired identities (e. g. intolerance). Namely the content of education given at the upper secondary school stage of general education school and at vocational schools should create the conditions and opportunities for young people in critical stage of development to define their identity on the basis of reasoned choices. The impact of the content of education and national curricula on social coherence is greater than can be seen at first glance. One of the most interesting experiences connected with national and ethnic identity problems comes from the United Kingdom, where the so-called Ajegbo report raised the issue of being a member of British society (Britishness) and development of social coherence through education. In the same way as Brits, we, too, have got stuck in defining and using the spiritual, moral, social and cultural heritage of our small but multicultural society in the integration processes of the period of re-establishment of independence. Therefore it would be advisable to take into account, especially in drafting the history and civic studies curricula, that through them it is possible to shape a student’s reasoned and versatile understanding of different identities and the social diversity of society.

Full article in Estonian