What is Heritage Education?

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Heritage education is the act of teaching one’s history, culture, and traditions to others; it is often used in order to preserve or strengthen a community.

So, what is a community?

As Ian Davis states in an article for UNESCO: “A community can be defined as a group of people who may live together within the same locality, share certain characteristics and interests, and who perceive themselves as a distinct community” In other words, a community is a group of people with a shared identity—be it geographic, linguistic, familial, etc.—that live together in the same place.

Why Is Heritage Education Important?

The need to preserve or strengthen a community can be seen in any society, whether it is through an ethnic group, religious sect, geographic location (i.e., state/province/territory), or other interests tied with culture.

Heritage education is essential because, without the act of teaching one’s history, culture, and traditions to others, a community’s heritage can be lost and forgotten.

When this happens, the people belonging to the community often feel disconnected from one another, and they do not feel like they belong in their own homeland; this is when conflict starts to take place or when people begin to think that the only way to belong is within another group or identity altogether.

As a result, many individuals are left feeling confused about where they belong or who they truly are. This can lead to feelings of isolation, anger, and even depression.

A way around this is through the act of teaching others about your community’s heritage in order to preserve it for future generations.

Furthermore, when people are aware of their shared identity, they are able to feel more connected with others which can lead to greater levels of self-esteem, psychological well-being, and overall happiness.

When Is It Essential to Start Learning Heritage Education?

Learning heritage education should start as early as possible. Although heritage education can be taught at any stage in life, it is much more effective when children are the students.

It is important to start early in life because it can be difficult to convince adults that heritage education is an essential aspect of their lives. It would be quite hard, for example, to get someone who has lived in Canada all their life to suddenly want to learn about a never-been-to-foreign land and how it connects to their heritage.

Most studies agree that heritage education should be an integral part of any school curriculum – taught alongside various related subjects such as citizenship, history, geography, and religious studies.

In fact, UNESCO supports this idea and suggests the incorporation of heritage education into other academic courses. This is because it has been found that teaching children about their heritage alongside learning related subjects makes it more interesting, engaging, and effective.

Furthermore, the benefits of teaching heritage education to an individual at a young age have been shown to increase self-esteem, feelings of belonging, and psychological well-being.

What Are Some Examples of Effective Heritage Education Techniques?

One effective technique used to teach young children about their heritage and culture is storytelling, which can be done through oral history methods. Oral history methods involve teaching children traditional stories and folktales, which they then share with future generations.

Other forms of heritage education include:

  • Participation in traditions and customs
  • Learning native heritage languages
  • Learning national history
  • Studying art forms (visual arts, dance, music)
  • Learning historical figures and events
  • Reading books about one’s heritage or culture
  • Constructing architecture based on traditions and customs
  • Visiting historical landmarks
  • Having community celebrations, festivals, and parades
  • Participating in heritage sports (i.e., traditional stick-and-ball games)
  • Witnessing elder’s performing arts and telling folktales, etc.

Heritage education is best done when it encourages students to think critically while learning about their own culture. In this way, students can develop a sense of identity that they can take pride in—and this will go a long way when it comes to positive self-esteem and self-identification.

Is Heritage Education for Everyone?

In order to become a more tolerant world, heritage education must extend beyond the boundaries of a shared community.

With this in mind, heritage education techniques should be used as a tool for promoting “mutual understanding” between different groups of people who may not normally interact with one another.

For example, local governments can use heritage education to teach newly arrived immigrants about the culture and customs of their new country. This is important because it encourages greater levels of multiculturalism between diverse groups of people who may not usually come into contact with one another.

Cultural Learning vs. Forceful Assimilation

It should be noted that there is a big difference between heritage education and assimilation into another culture. Assimilation, or the forceful adoption of another culture’s traditions and customs, is an act that should be avoided at all costs. This is because it seeks to strip away aspects of community identity in favor of one that is more widely accepted.

Instead, cultural learning involves teaching others about certain aspects of your heritage without trying to force them to adopt these traditions and customs. This type of interaction is much more likely to foster greater understanding between different cultural groups.

Heritage Education in the Modern Day

The act of teaching others about your heritage is fundamental when it comes to preserving, understanding, and sharing different parts of community identity. It encourages mutual respect between people of different backgrounds while also fostering a more tolerant world.

Heritage education techniques help students learn how to appreciate difference and diversity within their own communities and others worldwide. This will only help make the world a better place and should be encouraged as much as possible.

As we strive to make the world a more tolerant place, we must do our best to incorporate heritage education techniques into our everyday lives. Whether it’s something as simple as telling a friend about the traditional way in which your family celebrates a particular holiday or something more complex like an essay writer writing a research paper about a local artist of their community heritage.