Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Don't worry, kid, you don't need to know that

I am a strong champion of critical thinking but I also believe (how silly of me) that a solid foundation in facts is necessary when teaching students history. Unfortunately not all teachers are in agreement on this issue as the article reprinted from the Review Journal. shows.

"To understand and explain American exceptionalism, like it or not, it may be necessary to at least understand why aeroplanes were not used in the Civil War, why the British couldn't use the train to get back and forth between New York and Philadelphia in 1788, and why the Jackson Democrats kept making such a fuss about the National Bank.

"Nevada's Council to Establish Academic Standards was scheduled to meet July 21 to adopt new public-school history standards. When some attention was drawn to what they're up to, they promptly postponed their meeting for 'lack of a quorum.'

"Behind all the double-talk about replacing fact-driven, chronological history with a more 'thematic approach,' the unmistakable goal is to dumb down our history classes still further. The draft proposal under consideration is 'gobbledy-gook,' says Carson City School Board member (and former history teacher) Joe Enge. The stated goals are 'so broad I could drive a truck through them,' Mr. Enge says.

"Extrapolating 'themes' from history is great. But a young person cannot possibly judge -- let alone generate -- a useful interpretation of any facet of American history if he or she cannot locate the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pearl Harbor, Bunker Hill, Guadalcanal, Normandy, and Yorktown on a globe ... place them in their proper chronological order ... and name a commanding officer from at least three.
"Go ahead, ask them."

Check out the Review Journal for the rest.

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