History.

History was my favorite subject in school. Not that I’m a serious student of history, like, say… Craig. But I certainly enjoy it a heck of a lot more than algebra or chemistry.

Thus, it’s painful to see this tidbit of news (via Insty):

Unfortunately, science is one of our strong subjects. “American students are less proficient in their nation’s history than in any other subject, according to results of a nationwide test,” the New York Times reported last year. “Most fourth graders [were] unable to say why Abraham Lincoln was an important figure.” The exam found 12% of high school seniors “proficient” in American history.

But statistics can’t measure the outright grotesqueness of our failure. Earlier this year, the Huffington Post reported on “Lunch Scholars,” a high-school student’s video about his fellow students. “Do you know the vice president of the United States?” the filmmaker asks. One student volunteers “bin Laden.” “In what war did America gain independence?” No one had the right answer without a hint.

Gelertner’s proposed solution is an internet centered learning module. The friendly local internet school. I wish that was the answer.

Unfortunately, the reason American school kids are so bad at US history is because the curriculum is designed that way. History textbooks were bad enough when I was a student 30 years ago. Today you could diligently study and pass the learning objectives in most textbooks, and not even be acquainted with the  core events of our past that shaped the course of our nation.

The article does note the model of using young students with Education degrees right out of college as teachers is probably a less than optimum model. You’d think the best way to produce a teacher would be to have them form expertise in a certain field, and then add a coursework in instruction. Sadly, that’s not the case.

Robert Eubanks has blogged extensively on current trends in education in the US. You should take a look to see just what pathways the poobahs of the education establishment would like to set us on.

9 thoughts on “History.”

  1. I read a well-written magazine article a couple of years ago that stated that of the hundreds of high school history teachers in New York City, not a single one had actually studied history in college. All were education majors, but none had also gotten a degree in history. That’s not exactly a recipe for being able to inspire students about history.

  2. 4th grade students here are required to take Alabama history. I sat down to read my son’s textbook because I like history and I knew little about Alabama specifics. I couldn’t read the first chapter. It was as if 4000 people were all asked to write a sentence about Alabama history, and they just glommed it all together rather than take the time to edit it. Seriously, one paragraph included the 27-Mile Bluff, Indian pottery, and soldiers at Ft. McClellan during WW2.

    If I couldn’t read it even when I *wanted* to, how can we expect a bored 9-year-old to learn from it?

  3. This is done on purpose of course. Younger generations (including mine, I’m 34) don’t have a clue about history. That’s why Obama frequently speaks at colleges and universities. Older generations see through the bs and know, because of history, Progressivism/Socialism doesn’t work. It’s all about who and how you market it. Younger generation don’t know enough to know it doesn’t work.

  4. As it has been said, “If you don’t learn from history, you’re condemned to repeat it.” Question, “Is there a point in time, when history actually becomes prophecy?” As we look at the recent history of this Nation, like the last 30 years, to start with, I have a second question. “Can you honestly say they we have really listened to history?”

    Roamy, you ask a profound question, about getting bored 9 year-olds excited about history. How do we do it? I had problems with history, but my parents tried a different approach, outside the box. HEY, don’t throw the box away, because it is in fact, history. They approached differently, instead of US, State, County or even local history. They started with my personal history, and then the family’s extensive history in this area. My mother talked with her elderly grandmother about the issue, my great-grandmother asked me to come over to just talk. She was a US Civil War Nurse at Gettysburg. She was also there, when “a tall lanky gentleman came by train, to speak, in a tall hat. He wasn’t feeling well, but he would still speak.”

    She had this ability to stick burr of history, where I could not get it out. She lived to be 100+ years old.

    As I have studied and lived in my own history, I have never found the answer purely in Progressive/Socialistic side, but just as equally so the same is true of the “Modern Conservative Movement”. The long term answer will be in the world of balance. About the jobs programs and tax cuts, the goal should be, as one former POTUS put it, “Trust, but verify.” These cuts are not profits, but investments

    1. Grumpy, I am pretty sure I got my love of history from my parents. They liked visiting the national parks and battlefields because they were free back then, and with five kids, that made economic sense. I have tried to do the same with my kids. 200+ years of history hopefully starts to sink in when you see Jamestown, the USS Constitution, Mount Vernon, the cornfields at Antietam, the USS Alabama. Weave in a bit of family lore – hiding in the rocks at Devil’s Den, reading the names on the marker in front of the courthouse and talking about D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge. Not sure what else I can do, but I’m not leaving it solely in their teachers’ hands.

  5. Roamy, **Fantastic**, would be an understatement! I wish all parents would take that attitude. My father knew the people who actually lived the history, rather than just read ABOUT it. I only share how my parents dealt with it with me. I have this sneaking suspicion, your kids are in great hands on the subject of history.

  6. I can’t remember where I came across it, but I’ve long thought the idea of teaching history backwards is brilliant. Kids are natural observers, so why not leverage that and start with current events. Then, as part of that (years-long) discussion, ask “how did we get here?”

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