This is a topic near and dear to my heart. As I sit here to write my thoughts on an article I read on Education Week about How History Class Divides Us, I can only think of how American’s today don’t understand how to debate and agree on issues that affect us. This is my opinion, and it is based on observation from Facebook discussions on my network and in groups.
In that article, there were a panel of teachers who proposed thousands of changes to how to teach American History but the point of the the discussion was on what are the values that define Americans. What makes one American? What is funny about this is that what should be taught is true history in connection with civic duties. This is my reason for homeschooling and giving my son a classical education-a God-centered Classical Education.
American schools just don’t teach history so as to allow kids to learn history. And I am so glad that this article was written and everyone should get a hold of it, if they can. Because America is a melting pot of different cultural and religious backgrounds and the glue that made us stick together then, was and should always be, the Constitution. What is written in the Constitution-the Bill of Rights–is the glue that protects us from Government imposing on our rights. It is what makes us ‘American’. If Americans can’t agree on our shared history–and on the right way to teach history–then our current polarization and political dysfunction will continue and we will crumble and fall like the Roman Empire.
We cannot continue teaching history, piece meal. I love history and politics but I didn’t enjoy it when I was learning it in my K through 12 years of education. It was boring and dull and dry. And geography needs to be taught in conjunction with history. We need to help kids connect the dots. American’s today can’t discuss politics. Schools need to teach accurate facts, and must use books that are neutral. Not left leaning or right leaning. And then teach our kids how to think through the facts, analyzing them, interpret them, and thinking about how they can bring about debate that actually resolves conflict than playing “identity” politics. It makes me sad that teachers teaching history only get a birds eye view of history.
Moreover, reading the article gave me so much insight into our current problems, and also pointed me to a book I bought years ago, The Lies My Teacher Told me, by sociologist James Loewen. First, I haven’t had a chance to finish it. I have skimmed through the pages, reading here and there, but now I must read it. I picked it up because the title, at the time seemed, interesting enough to me m, and it was sold at the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington D.C. The book pokes holes at the textbooks used in schools.
The article says that the most provocative argument of Loewen is the fact that the textbook format itself is guilty of instilling a dangerous quietness in students, undermining their preparation as young citizens. I need to read the book through, now. Because I see this quietness in debates. People want to “argue” and win you over to their side in politics but they don’t really want a deep discussion. And I believe it is the quietness that is discussed in Loewen’s book.
In addition, let me quote something else the article mentions about Loewen’s ideas, [most textbooks], “present history to get students to ‘learn’ it. They should help students learn how to learn history. We aren’t just learning about the past to satisfy our curiousity–we are learning about the past to do our jobs as Americans.” Hence, the reason we should all be classically educated.
A classical education helps students draw their own conclusion after weighing all the evidence. And in essence, the mainstream media should just present the facts so as to allow Americans to draw their own conclusion after weighing all the evidence. But if Americans are constantly bombarded with narrative that favors those on the right or the left, then we will continue to be polarized and play the identity political game.
In conclusion, what the article is saying is that we should teach our kids how to think clearly about history and learn how to learn and search for truth. Find the article and read it. Then comment below and let me know your thoughts.