Don’t Know Much About His-tor-y

And, I’m afraid, they Don’t know much biology. Don’t know much about a science book, either. What they DO know is what the right-wing talking heads babble about 24/7. By now you’ve seen the report that American kids do poorly in history. The results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress revealed that “U.S. schoolchildren have made little progress since 2006 in their understanding of key historical themes, including the basic principles of democracy and America’s role in the world.” The report goes on, “12th-graders have shown little progress in their understanding of the U.S. role in global affairs, the concept of American democracy, technological breakthroughs and other key areas.“All of these students are going to be voters in a year. … They should be well informed,” said Diane Ravitch, an education professor at New York University who participated in a question-and-answer session with reporters after the survey was released.”

They should be well informed….going to be voters in a year. As if being informed is a key to voting rights. Spare me!

Seems to me that these schoolchildren are merely mimicking the adult leaders of our nation. They, too, seem to be quite ignorant of history, so why the exclusive kid-blame? After all, the adults are their role models. Take wars for example. What did we adults ‘learn’ from the idiotic Vietnam War? Apparently little at all.  Who recalls the flag-flying, patriotic fervor that spread like wildfire across the U.S.A. as the bombs burst over Baghdad at the inception of Shock ‘n Awe? These 12th graders were 8-years-old at the time, watching TV with their cheering parents.  What ‘lesson’ did they learn that day?

Who recalls the words of GW Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney as they assured us that this war was both urgent and would be over in no time at all.  At little expense to the taxpayer, too. Sadly the truth is that gallons of blood treasure and tons of financial treasure went down the drain- a drain still sucking our treasure. We’re still there ten years later. The lies of history are quickly forgotten. How many Americans still believe that the War on Iraq was justified? So, who is it that doesn’t know much about his-tor-y?

Then there are the Christo-fascists who know the literal words of the Bible much more clearly than the history surrounding Christianity. That huge bible-thumping area of the South spawns moronically parochial people who wear prismatic lenses which filter out the sheer madness of religious aggression. To them, the Crusades and the Inquisition were noble deeds directed explicitly by God. I’m betting that they know more about the dusty towns of Sodom and Gomorrah than they do of the Thirty Years’ War in Europe.

What about the financial meltdown of 2008? The very reason that John Q. Public is suffering financially ought to have imprinted important facts into the memory neurons of his brain. After all, he was not sitting in a ‘boring’ American History class memorizing the lineage of the kings of England. Rather, that event of less than three years ago ought to have shockingly awakened him from his slumber. Did it? Here is a series of questions that any adult American should know about their recent financial demise. Yet many Americans know the details of this most recent episode of American history?

• What was the major cause of the ‘financial meltdown of 2008?’

• Name at least one perpetrator implicated in this episode?

• What action of the Congress in the 1990’s was a major tripwire for the collapse?

• What action has the Congress initiated to fix the situation to insure that it does not happen once again?

Don’t know much about his-tor-y.


12 thoughts on “Don’t Know Much About His-tor-y

  1. I hate the notion of discriminatory voter tests, like those used in parts of the U.S. (deep south) to prevent blacks from voting.

    But a part of me wishes that EVERYONE who votes had to pass the same citizenship test that foreigners have to pass to become naturalized citizens.

    Glass-Steagal; learn it, know it, and damn well learn and know about the Pecora Commission as well.

  2. Many times it’s the wording of the question that is key …
    • What action has the Congress initiated to fix the situation to insure that it does not happen once again?

    Key word “initiated” … for example, let’s take the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act … legislation properly enacted by Congress and signed into law by the President … next step is implementation … Several financial services agencies had been expected to see budgetary increases to implement the enacted law … but with the Republican-controlled House holding the purse strings guess what is not happening … and with appointments needed for some of these positions and the Republicans in the Senate controlling the “Consent” guess what is not happening.
    So, I congratulate you on an excellently phrased question.

    I believe that I already mentioned on this site that the House Education and Workforce Committee is in the very-slow process of re-authorizing the federal portion contribution to K-12 … and one of the programs that has been cut is a grant program to teach history.
    That exemplifies what is happening … the Republicans are pushing funding cuts … and delaying actions … until there is another “shutdown deadline” then “bad” legislation is included in “necessary” legislation.
    America loses.

    The fact that students may be performing so poorly is more shocking when you hear some of the questions … a bare majority of fourth-graders could recognize Abraham Lincoln’s picture – and only 9 percent could give two reasons why he was important == makes you wonder how many of them ever asked why he was on the penny and five dollar bill ? Even if they did see his picture in a schoolbook, you would think that at some time they handled money.

    It is pretty easy to blame the teachers, except with such basic questions, I must fault the parents.
    I know things have changed since I was a kid … the encyclopedia was my companion … in fact, the grocery store gave away a series entitled Pictorial Encyclopedia of American History if you spent so much in groceries … every week I would wait for my Father to take my Mother to the store just to get the next book in the series. Heck, even television had Mr. Peabody and his boy, Sherman who used the WayBack Machine to travel back in history to meet interesting characters … I remember one with Napoleon (explaining why he had his hands inside his coat – his suspenders were stolen … it made you laugh … but it prompted you to go to your encyclopedia and read about Napoleon and then you would learn that was the way portraits were painted at the time … hand in coat)
    Today, kids have video games for entertainment … where’s the education ?

    FYI : Diane Ravitch was the assistant U.S. education secretary under George H.W. Bush.

    Lastly, as an aside, please do not mention Sodom and Gomorrah to your governor … that, for obvious reasons, was where John Kasich (and myself) resided at Ohio State except the University referred to them as Lincoln and Morrill Towers.

  3. the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act … legislation ”

    Sorry Minnesota Central my limited computer skills will not let me put a quotaton mark at the beginning of the above comment…Don’t understand wordpress’ new comment procedure.

    Anyway, the bill is is an abject failure…it’s show…it did not restore the Glass-Steagle Act. It’s Congressional “smoke and mirrors” ala Democrats. There is nothing in the Act to prevent 2008 from happening again, only this time it will be a “great depression” and not a “great recession”.

  4. Here’s an interesting quote:
    There is a direct relationship between declines in wealth, and declines in consumption and business investment, which along with government spending represent the economic engine.

  5. “All of these students are going to be voters in a year. … They should be well informed,” said Diane Ravitch, an education professor at New York University who participated in a question-and-answer session with reporters after the survey was released.”

    As a professional degreed historian, the fact that it is an education professor who makes the comment is especially galling. An educationist taking the lead in telling United States historians that they have done a terrible job in educating history teachers on the primary and secondary level. And, do you know why? It’s because professional college historians do not got out to observe the student teachers when they are doing their student teaching. Well, I did. And, you know what happened?..The word went out that I was coming out to the schools, and they had to be ready. When I came to their classroom, they were apprehensive, but theyy welcomed me whole heartedly. The principals told me that they wished professors from all the disaplines would come like I did. Pretty soon I had other professors joining me. One other criticism is that we have to end the use of coaches teaching history. Instead of teaching history, they talk about their particular sport, and are too “busy” to prepare for their history and government classes. Historians have abdicated their obligation to train students to be classroom teachers. Instead, they turn that responsibility over to educationists in social studies.

    1. “…coaches teaching…”

      I about fell off my chair when I read that. You are sooooo right. (And I thought only I noticed that.)

      1. It’s been like that for years, Jeff. It helps to explain why we have the problem today..

  6. Well, M_R your Senator, Sherwood Brown, has a web page that states: “Standing Up For Consumers”

    Words, my friend. Yesterday, he had a chance to stand up for consumers and repeal the subsidy for ethanol. Yet, he voted NAY! The ethanol subsidy is a ripoff of the consumer, and the advertised friend of consumers votes to retain the subsidy, as did the Republican Senator from Ohio. Brown is not interested in the vital interests of the United States. This is why, my friends, that the United States is going down. Politics is more important, that is, their job, than the national interests.

  7. UtF writes, Historians have abdicated their obligation to train students to be classroom teachers. Instead, they turn that responsibility over to educationists in social studies.

    Some of my worst teachers in high school were history teachers. I recall memorizing the lineage of the kings of England as if it were of utmost importance to my functioning as an adult. Phooey! What nonsense. Dates too seemed to be critical to my development. Broad concepts were sadly deemed not necessary.

    My very worst high school experiences were in mathematics. They were taught by teachers for whom math came easy. One of them had an accounting degree. Those are the worst teachers of all- the ones who found math a snap. They seldom know how to teach it well to the less-mathematically adept students.

    Two decades ago the mathematics community made a decision to revise both its mandated curriculum as well as the teaching methods for that discipline. These were sorely needed, but it will take another decade to ‘purge’ the system of the ‘seasoned’ teachers who will not change the way that they teach.

    Will the historians demand such a change for our American students? Further, did ‘No Child Left Behind’ do even more damage to the teaching of history? Do you have any answers, UptheFlag?

  8. If you found history to be boring, then your teachers weren’t very good.

    I have to admit that history is much more complicated than a survey class that simplifies the topic. This is why I like “alternative history”, which I describe as the “what if” version of event in an effort to figure out why what happened to create history.

    It’s one thing to know that Richard III was succeded by Henry VII without knowing about the houses of Lancaster and York with the ultimate succession by the House of Tudor. And why.

    Education is supposed to teach one how to think, but the US educational system is there to teach its subject how to be good employees.

  9. For anyone who is interested …
    Representative Scott Garrett (R-NJ)’s amendment numbered 22 to H.R. 2112 — the appropriations bill for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies programs should have a roll call vote today.

    The amendments prohibits use of funds in the bill by the CFTC to promulgate any final rules under the Commodity Exchange Act as added by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act until 12 months after the promulgation of final swap transaction reporting rules under the Commodity Exchange Act.

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