FIVE THINGS THEY SHOULD (BUT WON’T) TEACH MY KIDS ABOUT U.S. HISTORY
I am not going to lie, I don’t have one child, let alone kids… But I completely understand where Field Notes From Fatherhood is coming from. I would tell you to go check out his blog, but once I finish giving you the bullet points from this recent post, you will find yourself clicking over to his site anyway. 🙂
When I was growing up (and I doubt much has changed) elementary school US history consisted largely of mythologizing the beginnings of the country and its Founding Fathers. (Besty Ross designed the US flag? Dead wrong. The citizens of the colonies were unified in their fight against the British? Not even close.) Middle school taught us that America had saved civilization in two world wars. High school history continued that theme in more detail, and was dull, dull, dull. History shouldn’t be conflated with mythology, and it should never be dull. The study of history is messy, complex, and frequently skewed by national interests and priorities. It’s complicated, and oftentimes the most interesting subtleties and subtexts are ignored for the sake of streamlining, simplifying, and even indoctrinating.
Yes, yes, yes! I wish that on day one of school, each teacher would receive a memo with this sentiment on it. High school history teachers, we love you, but tighten up and lock it down!
I ran across a picture last night entitled ‘scumbag teacher,’ which you will see on your left. Often, this is truly how kids feel about their teachers, especially those in high school. It’s coming to a point where I feel that the old expression “those that can, do; those who can’t, teach” needs to be “those that can, do; and the rest get paid–from your tax dollars–to read straight from the book.”
There is a stereotype that comes with high school history teachers. If you tell someone that you teach history in high school, the next question out of their mouth will be, “What do you coach?” And I find that most times it is true; it was at my school. Even my favorite history teacher (who was working on his Masters while I was a student, was an excellent teacher, and really knew his stuff) coached. It was just bowling–but coaching nonetheless!
I was unsuccessful in my attempts to find statistics on how many high school history teachers are coaches; however, I did find this little gem. The American Historical Association–the AHA for crying out loud–has a coach preparation “playbook” to teach history, Preparing Non-Historians to Teach History: The Coaching History Playbook. It actually gives the following as one of its reasons as to why coaches teach history:
…teaching about people and the past doesn’t seem overly complicated…
Awesome. Just so long as it isn’t hard for the coaches, and the school has a winning athletic program. The AHA even goes on to say that,
…in all likelihood, their history teachers were coaches, too. Because we tend to teach in the manner in which we were taught, many coaches who teach history tend to lecture and rely on the textbook, because that is what they remember their college professors and high school teachers doing.
So by all means, let’s not fix the problem. There is an obvious cycle of poor teachers teaching poor teacher. No wonder the younger generation is clueless about history, government, and politics. Below is a video, “Americans don’t know why we celebrate 4th of July.” He basically goes on to ask people what they think about July 4th, as we celebrate our independence from Nazi Germany and the Roman Empire… Yes…the following video is embarrassing.
If you liked this video, here is another one entitled, “People sign ‘I am a moron’ petition without reading the headline,” which is also embarrassing.
But back to this wonderful blog I ran across. There are five main points that Field Notes From Fatherhood wants to get across:
- Christopher Columbus was something of a bumbling idiot and a lot more than something of a murderous sadist. (For a piece I wrote on a related topic, check out The Spanish Requirement of 1513.)
- Benjamin Franklin was an exuberant bon vivant and a bit of a pervert.
- The French won the American Revolution.
- Thanksgiving Day is also a National Day of Mourning.
- The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were completely unnecessary.
So if any of those interest you (you know #2 does), go check out his post for the full explanation! If you have children in school, see what they know… Don’t let poor educators ruin your children’s future. How embarrassing would it be if one of your kids ended up on a video like the one above? Don’t let it happen.