Friday, August 15, 2008

History Misexperts

Americans believe that the school system is dumbing down the curriculum. As proof, we point out the declining background knowledge that college freshman have of history and geography as they enter universities.

Teachers believe that the federal government's No Child Left Behind Initiative forces them to teach to the test, which emphasizes reading comprehension and mathematics, leaving very little time for social studies. That doesn't explain why history and geography knowledge was lagging before the "No Child Left Behind Initiative" was passed, but that's a whole 'nother ball o' wax.

Let's just say that I pride myself on teaching my fourth graders the fifty states, their location, a little information about each one, and some general information about each region of the United States. I also take pride in my fifth grade American history classes and my required history of the state of New Mexico.

However, something recently happened in class that let me know that even I have made a change in what subject matter we are teaching in American history. The history books deemphasize Anglos and stress all cultural influences on our country. This is good, to a point. I don't think that replacing Thomas Edison with Lonnie G. Johnson is a marvelous idea, but I'm sure at least some teachers have.

Last week in class, one of my students, Robert, told me he couldn't pick out a book to read. He just couldn't decide. I told him I would pick one out for him, and I chose "The Story of Daniel Boone."

Robert read the title and said, "Mr. R., who is Danielle Boone?"

I need to work on my history and reading classes a little more, I suppose.

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