The Chronicle of Higher Education again published an article on the state of American history and Economics among many of America’s college students. According to it, students are getting dumber in history. The think tank that conducted the study found that seniors in college knew as much as, if not less than entering freshman. James Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me, blames the decline of history on misguided teaching. For example, teachers and textbooks still teach that most people believed the world was indeed flat by 1492 – – which was clearly false. I have found such errors in the American Pageant textbook that I used years ago. Moreover, the teaching of American history has been “overly” glorified in that we (American teachers) must teach false romanticized history as part of citizenship, duty, and patriotism. Because of this, students lack the analytical skills necessary to think in a historical manner. Howard Zinn blames this on the growth of capitalism and nationalism. I am assuming that his arguments builds on the construction of national identity, thus without glorification a great nation struggles to showcase any identity during challenging times such as 9/11. I try to get my students to look at the historical process from various points of views. Americans must learn to place blame on the actions of “grand” historical figures. We often try too hard to protect the actions of many under the umbrella of “it was a different time.”
When I ran this piece years ago, I had students answer a few question to see how they might do; I will not ask this time. I am curious to see a survey on how national history is being taught in other countries. History on Trail, a book I read in graduate school years ago, addressed this topic. I find that people are confused or just blind to the thought that ideology has nothing to do with history; it has everything to do with it. It shapes the past. There seems to be two very strong point of views on this subject and the problem of teaching American history in schools.
Here is an account from an anonymous source on the negative:
The National Standards forward the socialist program of dividing Americans into artificial groups and them pitting them against each other (divide and conquer). It emphasizes group rights at the expense of individual rights, which is the road to tyranny. It also furthers the socialist program of cutting Americans off from their democratic and European traditions, which stand in the way of establishing a totalitarian socialist state.It promotes the false idea that all cultures and civilizations are equal, which is false. European civilization is demonstrably superior to all the rest. It seeks to destroy Americans faith in themselves and their country. It suppresses all of the ideas from the Scottish Enlightenment (Locke, Smith, etc)upon which America was founded. It fails to explain the greatness of the Constitution, and its role as the sole protector of American liberty, which is not surprising given the long standing socialist. hatred of the Constitution.All in all, it is a shameful work, and fully illustrates the moral corruption of socialism that has taken over the American educational system, including the University system.
I call on all Americans to take action to remove this terrible blight on our society. Unite by taking control of local school boards and University Boards of Directors. Then force the academics to purge the curricula of all the socialist and multicultural lies.
Here is a much more positive account… and one I agree with:
This is the kind of book I’d like to have written – the kind of book that would really clarify a lot of public debate, not to mention academic work done in the discipline of history, if it were widely read. It does three things at once: meticulously defend the proposed U.S. National History Standards against their often savage right-wing opponents; make the case that history teaching is an important forum for the working out of cultural anxieties; and provide a chronicle of debates over historical meanings and teachings since the founding of the Republic, and earlier. A really well-written and important work, both for history students and teachers and for the interested public