Are there things that all children need to know?

Clio et cetera

In mathematics and (to an extent) in the natural sciences there is not a huge amount of debate as to what ought to populate a curriculum. The greater debate, particularly in maths, is not so much what to teach, but rather how to teach. In the arts and humanities, however, there are few things which are strictly necessary, without which it becomes difficult to advance in the subject. In history, for example, you could get away with having never studied the Avignon Papacy, the reign of Edward VI, the Thirty Years War or the unification of Germany. Whilst in all cases learning these periods would be a good thing and would enrich your knowledge of the past, there are not really empirical or rational grounds on which to say any period of history is strictly essential. The same is true of literature: although there are plenty of books, plays and…

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