June 15, 2011

Why would the No Child Left Behind emphasis on math and reading leave less time to learn history?

I'm reading this Wall Street Journal article about new history history test scores:
The overall lackluster performance is certain to revive the debate about whether history and other subjects, such as science and art, are being pushed out of the curriculum because of the focus on math and reading demanded under the No Child Left Behind federal education law. The federal law mandates that students be tested in math and reading.
Why is this even a conflict? To learn reading,  you need reading material! Make the reading material nonfiction works about history. Problem solved.

I have discussed this issue before, and I know people have a problem with it, but schoolchildren don't need to read fiction to learn how to read. Let them choose their own fiction books for reading outside of school.

141 comments:

Titus said...

Arne Duncan is hot. I saw him interviewed while at the gym yesterday. I would definitely do him.

Nice big tall glass of water. I expect a nice hog from him as well. There is a little lisp going on in the speech as well.

Maguro said...

NCLB is pretty much the blanket excuse for anything that's wrong in education these days. Apparently everything was peachy before Dubya and Teddy Kennedy got together and passed NCLB.

Original Mike said...

"To learn reading, you need reading material! Make the reading material nonfiction works about history. Problem solved."

Makes sense to me. But then I never went to "education school".

(I hope nobody tells my students.)

BarryD said...

You're assuming that History, as taught, would be non-fiction.

Original Mike said...

Barrrrry. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Seeing Red said...

My GF graduated HS 8 years behind me.


By then, dates didn't matter so she doesn't know when events happened.


And considering Bill FOO Terrorist SDS Ayers

had input on a still-used SS book.....

not so good.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

I agree completely. Plus, it's far more important to learn how to read factual/historical/opinion-based accounts than it is to learn to find metaphors and symbolism and such.

That being said, though, there are very important connections that can be made between history and fictional literature from the time- my high school American history and English classes (which focused on American lit that year) were designed to go hand in hand, so we were discussing the historical context of the lit that we were reviewing- it definitely added a lot of depth of understanding to the works that we read.

- Lyssa

BT said...

Each child should have to memorize
I, Rigoberta Menchú and then Das Kapital. That will set them up nicely for HS.

P.S. Millionth!!!!!

Lucius said...

As a public school topic, history gets *interesting* way too fast for society to be comfortable with it.

It invites so many evaluative questions so quickly. "Mr. Lucius, who do you say was the greatest President?" --"How come?" --"Didn't he own *slaves*?" --"My dad says FDR was a Communist." --"My aunt says Reagan was an SOB." --"Wasn't Nixon, besides Hitler, the most evil man in history?"

Now let's turn to the classroom that's reading Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar." *So* much quieter . . .

ricpic said...

Arne Duncan wants all little boys to love the homo. What could possibly go wrong? Titus told me that's the way "the community" intends to get them, when they're young. Then he told me it's all hush hush and not to tell the breeders.

Cedarford said...

A lot of history was miswritten over the years to overephasize war and "great leaders" who were supposed to thrill the tykes with the single great man theory of history...all great events were the doing of a single man or woman HERO (or VILLAIN).
Then history became multikulti and kids were put to the critical learning task of memorizing who the 1st black astronaut was and the 1st handicapped female to climb Mt McKinley.
History IS valuable, it IS the anchor of our culture (not the Sacred Parchment - US Constitution - which is a legalistic, vague (Thou Shall..." document more about how people are supposed to do things than why we do it in our culture. And at best is just one supporting document of many needed to understand US culture.)

It should be taught.
What bothers me is all the side stuff that should be elective - like sports, music, art - once the critical "core" of reading, writing, math and science and civics is completed in mastery at each level with time permitting.

And it bothers me that the brighter students, mainly white and Asian, who have shown mastery of a years course material are still stuck in the classes with the dullards rather than be allowed to test out and learn some other material in the time left in school.

(My daughter got in trouble a decade ago for "secretly" studying for her biology and chemistry CLEPs while in an English class where 85% of the time was spent on trying to get socially promoted black dullards up to the course level or within a few years of the others.)

CJinPA said...

"Why is this even a conflict? To learn reading, you need reading material! Make the reading material nonfiction works about history. Problem solved."

We just did this is my school district with the speech course. We wanted kids to learn interview/job skills. So we'll have them research/write speeches along those lines.

Seeing Red said...

Titus, U really need to get out of there.


Duncan is not hot.

ndspinelli said...

Amen. Girls are better readers for many reasons. But, near the top of the list is the emphasis on fiction by teachers that are overwhelming female. If you let boys read non-fiction their love of reading will increase. At the core of boys doing poorly in school is the fact that ~80% of teachers K-12 are women. And, many of the men are "girly men." Not that there's anything wrong w/ that.

Seeing Red said...

Ahh, the old "U can't understand The Constitution unless you're a lawyer" tripe.

Trope.

Whatever.


As my daddy said, they lived it.


Man hasn't changed.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

As the President likes to say, this is a false duality. (That's the phrase he uses, isn't it?) If they cut out some of the PC extras like mandatory "volunteer" service, there would be more time for academics.

Lamar63 said...

From the article. "While the nation's fourth- and eighth-graders have seen a slight uptick in scores since the exam was first administered in 1994, 12th-graders haven't."

NCLB has nothing to do with the lackluster scores. They were even more lackluster before NCLB.

Auntie Ann said...

There are also many who point out that reading comprehension often relies on outside knowledge. If you don't know anything, you have no way of interpreting what you read.

This is the basis behind things like Massachusetts' successful core-knowledge curriculum and the "What Your 1st Grader Needs to Know" books.

Reading requires subject knowledge, not just phonics and decoding.

Carol_Herman said...

I'm a big reader, now. But was never a big reader when I went to school.

And, the ONLY book I remember loving, was in my sophomore year in high school. When the class read THE ODYSSEY.

On the other hand, I didn't return to college until I was 50. And, I went locally. At first. To PCC. Where I had a required English class that included poetry. (The professor was so good ... On a supbject I don't even respect) ... that I sat there, mesmerized.

Good teachers are a blessing.

In my day they were EVERYWHERE! But this is no longer true.

What happened? The employment market opened up for women. They didn't have to choose between teaching and nursing. So top students went elsewhere.

Teachers today were the lousiest students when they were school kids.

You can tell the difference.

Lucius said...

I want the memorization of dates from students-- it's important.

But I respectfully think Ann's advocacy on this just falls apart.

Beyond maybe a K-7 level, it's impossible to provide "History" as though it were a purely objective, sort of "found" material-- The Reading That Fell From The Trees, Is Good For You And Teaches You Other Stuff Too While You Read!, as Ann seems to envision it.

Even at the K-7 level, what reading are we talking about here? Corny mythic stuff like Washington and the Cherry Tree? Or multiculti "consciousness raising" crap about Harriet Tubman or whatever?

Napoleon said that history is the true philosophy. But even if we can agree on basic facts and even a broad interpretative stance, that still means the reading of history is going to quickly lead us into all kinds of arguments about human nature, about our society-- all of a sudden we're doing *politics*!!

And yes, shit about "other cultures" is *politics* too!

Now: of course Literature gets us into all this territory too! But what's the saving difference? It's *make-believe*. We can't do anything to save the fictitious slave girl; we don't need to raise money for gender-confused teens in a Renaissance forest. If it's a couple of hundred years old, Mommy and Daddy might-- *might*-- fail to suspect there's anything untoward about it.

Then again: we have 'controversies' over "Huck-Finn". So by all means, let's see how well a diet of Howard Zinn and Paul Johnson keeps the peace at the PTA.

--And yes, I'm aware there are assholes who ply the public school teens with Howard Zinn. Assholes.

DADvocate said...

A lot of history is more interesting than much of the fiction they want kids to read. They conflate reading with literature. Do you want kids to know how to read or must the study works of literature?

When I was a kid we subscribed to the Random House Book of the Month club. We actually got two books, an "All About" book and a historically oriented book, often a biography or an account of an historical event. The "All About" books were about scientific, nature sort of things: animals, volcanoes, trees, etc. I loved them. When they came in the mail I would have both of them read, 150 - 200 pages each, within 2-4 days.

Seven Machos said...

The thing is that people have been whining that Americans don't know or are not learning history for years. It was going in the 1980s when I was a kid.

And the problem is actually a very simple one: the textbooks that present history present it in the most boring, stupid, trite way possible. It's really not surprising that kids aren't learning history when it's presented in such a poor way. I wouldn't even say kids aren't learning history. I'd say they are rejecting the coursework.

Paddy O said...

I pretty much agree with you, and it's surprising how core skills like reading and writing (don't forget about writing!) are advanced as other fields are tstudied.

I kind of have the same attitude towards exercise. I don't like to jog, or lift weights, or pretty much do anything where the emphasis is on the exercise itself. But I love playing sports, spending time getting to and hanging out at beautiful places.

My 'pretty much' isn't because of the goal, but because of the ghastly material that passes for history books in most high school and survey classes. Reading more of that only serves to teach a generation of kids to hate history.

andinista said...

This is not a bug, it's a feature. When a full three generations of citizens are unmoored from their nation's history, when they are unaware of the sacrifices and efforts made by their forebears to "preserve, protect and defend" this nation "conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal": then this nation is ready to be captured without a shot by the enemies of Liberty.

Two generations down, one to go. They are so close.

Here's a good analogy. The Islamic "moderates" do not risk themselves to rein in their jihadi brethren, because the moderates believe the same thing, they are moderate only in their passions. Likewise, the Gramscians, and the Academy.

Scott M said...

I want the memorization of dates from students-- it's important.

Names, dates, terms, and groups of terms. This should be the core knowledge in any sort of history or social studies class.

TosaGuy said...

History is the sum of all knowledge. It is also an exceptional subject in which to teach research, writing, critical analysis, perspective, etc. If taught correctly, it is the most conservative of all the social studies and forms highly engaged and knowledgable citizens. If taught incorrectly, it forms incurious dullards incapable of independent thought. If taught maliciously (the Howard Zinn model), it creates brainwashed pawns open to exploitation by activists.

Freeman Hunt said...

And the problem is actually a very simple one: the textbooks that present history present it in the most boring, stupid, trite way possible.

Amen to that.

I had a combined history/English class at the boarding school that I went to for part of a year. It was horrible. I don't think I learned any English or history during that time. Bad textbook. Lit teachers teaching history. Bleh.

edutcher said...

"Don't know much 'bout history" was going on long before Sam Cooke, but any American coming out of public schools before 1970 had a grasp of the basics.

The simple truth is that, people like Little Zero have a better chance of being elected if the electorate has no idea it's all been tried and failed before.

And Ann's point is has its merits, although reading probably should be taught as a separate subject - every other subject should reinforce what's learned in reading. You can stress reading (my mother made sure I stayed late after school in the second and third grades to improve mine) and not miss history or anything else.

Seeing Red is correct, of course. We have that "distinguished educator", William Ayers, and his friends at the Columbia University School of Education to thank.

Scott M said...

it creates brainwashed pawns open to exploitation by activists

I see what you did there. You spelled it B-R-A-I-N-W-A-S-H-E-D-P-A-W-N-S, but it's actually spelled M-A-T-T-D-A-M-O-N.

Seven Machos said...

Names, dates, terms, and groups of terms.

I could not possibly disagree more. So much education tends to be a glossary, and it's useless, particularly because academics are always using three-dollar words when a word that costs a dime is perfectly okay.

A good example is the term polynomial in math. Fancy word. Intimidating. But the actual work of dealing with the thing called a polynomial is not that hard, or hard to learn. Denominator is another good one. Really?

In history, it simply is not important to learn what battle happened in what year in, say, the American Revolution. (Why year, by the way? Why not month, or day of the week?) What's important is to know why the American Revolution happened, and what the opposing views of it were, and what it wrought going forward. Time-wise, knowing generally when the battles happened (the late 1700s) is just fine.

Browndog said...

I'd like to thank Anthony Weiner's weener for bring this problem to the forefront.

Discusions of Weiner's weener reminded us all that the real problem with America, and American history is white men.

White men lived it. White men wrote it.

White men wrote the Consitution. Therefor, it is inherently fucked up. Why teach it before we fix it.

As Claire Shipmen (wife of Whitehouse spokesman Jay Carney)said this weekend, citing a University of Michigan study, "In other words, a group of all white men are not going to reach the best decisions."

We need to get a panel of asians, lesbians, latinos,blacks, muslims, and handicapped people to rewrite the Constitutional correctly.

Remember, Michelle Obama said we need to change our history.

A wise latino seen nodding in agreement.

TosaGuy said...

Matt Damon!

andinista said...

We emphasize fiction reading because this is how books work. If we started them on deadly dull faux-history written by charlatans like Zinn, they won't ever even learn to read!

(And don't even think of defending Zinn. If he was so great, how come he didn't have to courage to publicly declare himself a Communist writing history from a Communist point of view? Instead he took such great pains to hide the truth. Respect for Alinsky, only contempt for Zinn.)

Alex said...

Howard Zinn is part of the deconstructionist movement.

Scott M said...

If we started them on deadly dull faux-history written by charlatans like Zinn, they won't ever even learn to read!

Okay, fiction then. Start 5th grades on the first Dune book and go from there.

Chuck66 said...

I have a cousin who tried very hard to get a history teaching job in Wisconsin. His biggest roadblock? Most history teaching openings required you to coach a sport. He was someone who could coach a sport.

So remember, that history teacher in your kids school, he/she wasn't hired due to his passion and knowledge for history. But was hired to coach JV volleyball, and then was sent to babysit the history class.

TosaGuy said...

I picked up a useless education degree along with my history degree. I student-taught one fall for the history teacher who was the wrestling coach. Once he figured I wouldn't get chewed up by the class, which was after about a week, he disappeared for the remainder of the term to plan wrestling season. I got some good reviews for the students to include "you made the Spanish-American War interesting."

mccullough said...

I agree with 7 Machos, the concepts in history are the most important. Particular names and dates are secondary, though useful.

But, like Cedarford said, a lot of history is presented as great man or multicultural bullshit.

Do teachers really on textbooks so much anymore? If I were teaching about World War II in U.S. History to 7th graders, the first 15 minutes of Saving Private Ryan convey a lot more than just reading about D-Day. When I was in 7th grade, we watched the Zapruder film and some other videos about the JFK assasination. Textbooks are decent to reinforce a few things, but they can't be the primary teaching tool.

Coketown said...

Maybe we could drop photography or ceramics or sewing or theater or any number of stupid electives to focus more on history and science? Is that proposal too radical? Do kids who know how the difference between stop bath and fixer perform better on math tests? I doubt it.

TosaGuy said...

I now have a masters in history and I am still not eligible for full certification as a social studies teacher since I didn't take Sociology 101. Meanwhile, someone who read too much Foucault for their own good is explaining to youngin's how FDR freed the slaves.

Oligonicella said...

The Illiad, The Odyssey, Dickens, Poe, Hemmingway, ........

Not worth reading in school? I disagree.

Flat text doesn't give a clue as to human motivation and action. Those who insist on avoiding fiction end up not understanding people.

Both should be read.

AJ Lynch said...

Did anyone else notice the more education they have the more the scores decline?

4th grade 22%
8th grade 18%
12th grade 13%

So they are getting dumber as they get more schooling :). At least that is what I pointed out to my niece, an 8th grade teacher.

Brennan said...

I don't get it. Are you a liberal?

You don't seem like the kind of liberal I know. The liberals I know think reading non-fiction history instead of Upton Sinclair's fiction is right wing social engineering.

TosaGuy said...

"The Illiad, The Odyssey, Dickens, Poe, Hemmingway, ........

Not worth reading in school? I disagree.

Flat text doesn't give a clue as to human motivation and action. Those who insist on avoiding fiction end up not understanding people.

Both should be read."

I agree, both history and literature are valuable. However, girls should only be allowed to read one Jane Austen book. All she does is make women want get useless degrees in English Literature.

Peter said...

"To learn reading, you need reading material! Make the reading material nonfiction works about history. Problem solved."

You’ve apparently not been to educators of educators. Students don’t need to learn anything in particular, they need only to learn how to learn.

And the quality of what they read is also not important. What's important is that they read works written by authors of diverse ethnicities, sexes, and races.

"Reading requires subject knowledge, not just phonics and decoding."

Heresy. THIS IS HERESY!!

"In history, it simply is not important to learn what battle happened in what year in, say, the American Revolution."

Well, fine. BUT with all this emphasis on narratives (plural), there's all too much evidence that all too many students do not know in which century the U.S. Civil War occurred.

traditionalguy said...

The History of the United States is an out of date history once believed by many among the conquering white population that once ruled here this part of The North American Province of the United World. Why expect the youth to waste their time on that? Are you stupid like Sarah Palin?

stlgretchen said...

The districts don't want students to learn AMERICAN history. We are global now and international history and lessons are primary:

http://www.missourieducationwatchdog.com/2010/10/constitution-week-and-citizenship-day.html

There is no reason to learn American history when you are a citizen of the world.

mccullough said...

When I studied history in grade school back in the early-mid 80s, we learned that although the white man treated the natives badly, the natives were not noble savages. They were way more savage than the white man.

A modern parallel is some of the African countries today. People want to blame genocide in some African countries on colonialism. While a lot of colonialism was bad, some of these folks are savages. It has nothing to do with the White Man.

Robert Cook said...

"...don't even think of defending Zinn. If he was so great, how come he didn't have to courage to publicly declare himself a Communist writing history from a Communist point of view?"

Perhaps he didn't see himself as a Communist or consider his writing to be expressive of or to derive from a Communist point of view.

prairie wind said...

This topic is depressing. Since fourth grade, my middle schoolers have not had to write anything persuasive. Any factual reports are "written" as a poster or as a tri-fold brochure or as bullet points in a Powerpoint presentation. Teachers need to get over their awe of kids who know how to use computers. Powerpoint...pfft.

And reading has turned into reading "anything they like to read." God forbid teachers should require them to read Treasure Island or something that challenges their reading skills.

Oligonicella said...

Robert Cook --

"Perhaps he didn't see himself as a Communist or consider his writing to be expressive of or to derive from a Communist point of view."

We have examples of that right here on this blog.

Phil 3:14 said...

NCLB is the "orphan" legacy of the Bush administration. Dems don't like it because teachers don't like it and they need teacher union support. Conservatives don't like it because its "statism".

but there's enough in their to like ("standards" for Republicans and educational support for Democrats) that neither side has the will, wherewithal and votes to get rid of it.

And so it will remain.

The Drill SGT said...

I just looked at my local (Fairfax) school elementary curriculum

the 4 core topics are:
math
science
reading
social studies

plus
art
pe
educational tech (WTF?)
foreign language

to the extent that History is under represented, I'd first look at what timeshare history gets in social studies and whether there aren't a bunch of time on "multi-cultural studies". Then I'd look at the actual history curriculum and see how much of it is anecdotes about the "first gay pilot", first female doctor, and the first Negro xxx.

Bryan C said...

Seven, when you remove the dates, what you're left with is not a useful historical understanding, just a series of vignettes.

The American Revolution happened in the late 1700's. And we could say the French Revolution was about that same time. In the late 1700's we were allies with France, victors over the British Empire. In the late 1700's we were at war with France. In the early 1800's we were at war with England, and the United States doubled in size with a land purchase from the French.

As a set of unmoored facts rattling around in decade-size boxes this is almost impossible to remember or understand. But add the years, a few important people, and it comes together and starts to make sense.

The Drill SGT said...

mccullough said...
A modern parallel is some of the African countries today. People want to blame genocide in some African countries on colonialism. While a lot of colonialism was bad, some of these folks are savages. It has nothing to do with the White Man.


LOL, one of my favorite un-PC paragraphs in a Tom Clancy book, "Executive Orders" I think.... Clark and Chavez are off in East Africa, Sudan I think. They are talking to a black Army Colonel US Military Attache, he says, and I paraphrase, "don't tell anybody, but I'm glad my folks got brought out of Africa. Southern Alabama is paradise compared to this shit hole"...

Anne B. said...

``To learn reading, you need reading material! Make the reading material nonfiction works about history.''

Amen to that, and there is plenty of good stuff out there. Richard Rhodes' "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" reads like a suspense novel. In this house we love John Julius Norwich's Mediterranean and Byzantine histories - we read 'em aloud, and the kids were fascinated by the stories. John Keegan is always worth reading. A hefty biography, like McCulloch's of John Adams, incorporates loads of history without even trying.

Better yet, they are a lot more entertaining than any textbook. Even the best textbook hasn't got room to do much more than skim the surface, and the worst ones veer between preachy and boring.

andinista said...

Dude, I read Dune in fifth grade, and I read my History books. Where'd I get the time? Don't read much SF anymore, but I still read lots of history and historically important literature. And there's not a Jay Walking that I don't know all the answers immediately, unlike the illiterate and uneducated dunces the Academy produces today if their parents don't supplement it with supper-table discussions.

You know, if there was a reliable historical Wikipedia that wasn't polluted with progressive taqqiya, you wouldn't even need textbooks. Just require the kids to choose and read 5 articles per week, take a weekly retention quiz.

edutcher said...

mccullough said...

I agree with 7 Machos, the concepts in history are the most important. Particular names and dates are secondary, though useful.

But, like Cedarford said, a lot of history is presented as great man or multicultural bullshit.

Do teachers really on textbooks so much anymore? If I were teaching about World War II in U.S. History to 7th graders, the first 15 minutes of Saving Private Ryan convey a lot more than just reading about D-Day. When I was in 7th grade, we watched the Zapruder film and some other videos about the JFK assasination. Textbooks are decent to reinforce a few things, but they can't be the primary teaching tool.


"Ryan" is fiction. Show the combat footage, if you must.

But "concepts" are in the eye of the beholder. Zinn and Uncle Saul taught us that. Facts first. Names, events, and dates provide the framework.

And the reason textbooks have fallen out of use is that they're written like comic books. Ann's use of history to teach reading is the point here.

Film can reinforce, but the facts are going to come mostly from books because that's where the detail is.

Seeing Red said...

I love NCLB - it put the chink in the Union armor.

Seeing Red said...

IF "1491" were required reading in high school & Dr. Thomas Sowell's "Basic Economics, A Citizen's Guide to the Economy"


that would be change I could believe in.


wv: moless mo is less.

Seeing Red said...

That stupid law that W signed about lead in ink didn't help either.


All the good old 1st person account stuff -- before 1985 gone.


They had to dump it all just in case some kids decided to lick the pages & get lead poisoning.


Generations didn't die cos we had lead ink books.

The Drill SGT said...

"Ryan" is fiction. Show the combat footage, if you must.

Compromise: "The Longest Day" is fairly non-fiction.

Seeing Red said...

True story - I used to visit a fun for me site.


1 person who I think is about 50 got her Ph.D. in History about the time Heller came down.

She couldn't understand it.


So we have someone who put in 10s of thousands of $, hours, effort studying 6000 years of recorded human history & still couldn't understand why the great unwashed masses needed to protect themselves from their betters.

What good does it do you & she was looking forward to shaping those minds........


I don't think she had kids, tho, either, so that was also part of it.



butchand? lololol

Seeing Red said...

Dont' agree, 7, need the context.

Otherwise U end up as who's that Haaavaard ignoramus at the WaPo who thought The Constitution was over 100 years old?


World massively changes in a century.


sortic

Seven Machos said...

Dont' agree, 7, need the context.

You obviously do not understand my position. I am arguing for an overall context without focusing so much on trivial detail. The make and serial number of the spark plug is not important. It's where it goes in the engine, and what it does.

To the guy complaining that the American Revolution and the French Revolution happened at different times: not really. The most important thing, in fact, is that they happened at essentially the exact same time. Yet they were so different in character and remain the driving forces behind politics to this day.

Kathy said...

An acquaintance just pulled her son out of public school to homeschool him, partly because they would not let him check out non-fiction from the school library. You see, his reading scores were high, and they felt non-fiction was harder to test over than fiction so they wanted him to only check out books on which he would test well. (Don't ask me; apparently they have to take content tests over the free reading they do?) Of course, he preferred non-fiction, so there was a problem.

My kids are homeschooled, so I get to select their assigned reading. The history we use is outstanding--it wasn't written by a committee and it has a point of view, but that's fine by me.

This Country of Ours

This book would never pass muster in a public school classroom anymore, but it's fun to read and thoroughly covers all the topics (until the 20th century--we switch to another book for that part).

The garbage kids have to read now, so sanitized and diversified and "correct", would bore anyone.

Kathy said...

The most important thing, in fact, is that they happened at essentially the exact same time. Yet they were so different in character and remain the driving forces behind politics to this day.

Seven, my oldest (now 10) and I were talking about that a couple of months ago. She studied both revolutions this year. Back when she was studying early British history, we read about attempted revolution after attempted revolution, and after awhile I asked her to generalize about them. Then we talked about the usual way these things played out. This year we got to talk about why the American revolution turned out differently. Great stuff!

JimMuy said...

What, and make them give up teaching The Handmaiden's Tale or The Crucible?
How will the ever make sure the poor dears learn that conservatives and religion are evil?

Lucius said...

@TosaGuy: I can take your 'one Jane Austen novel' thing as a joke, but--

Far from being the reality about English majors in training, most of these girls won't even read P&P. Or if they do, they won't make it far into the rest of the canon.

I would happily argue that the Complete Jane Austen is the *ideal* single-author body of work for Literary study.

Besides, the girls you're thinking about are usually *Jane Eyre* fanatics, not Janeites. C. Bronte's sturm und drang works better with then than Neo-Classical irony.

I do sense in all this anti-literature balloon-floating a slight contempt for an imaginary army of teenage Mary McGregors who are going to grow up to be Post-Structuralist Lit Shits who ruin society.

I think this puts the blame on the habit of devouring fiction among teen girls, when in fact it's the pop culture and then the Leftist stranglehold in the university humanities depts. that produces this.

Girls just wanting to devour fiction is great. In the 18th Century families would sit and read "Clarissa" together, passing down volume by volume. They did great.

Lucius said...

vis-a-vis "Saving Private Ryan": I know the kids see a lot of evil stuff on their own, but--

It sounds pretty execrable to imagine subjecting 7th graders to that film's combat montage.

Of course I wasn't there, but I'm skeptical about Spielberg's effort to 'say the unsayable' or, as it were, to envision the unenvisionable.

In that maelstrom of gunfire it's hard to conceptualize what anybody 'sees' anyway.

As realized on film, a lot of it plays like a computer-generated, NC-17 "Calvin & Hobbes" panorama of mayhem.

I cry foul on the whole movie. Spielberg wants to pump himself up to Major Artist status by taking on the super-ugly True History in between another summer blockbuster lark. The results are equivocal at best.

Big Mike said...

The make and serial number of the spark plug is not important.

So you've just bought 4 (or 6 or 8) spark plugs at random when you tune up an engine? Don't work on my car!

In addition to verifying that the plug make and number works in your engine you might want to check the gap. Just sayin'

(Not that I've worked on my own car for 20 years, but my memory hasn't gone. Yet.)

victoria said...

I am a huge reader of non-fiction and history books and I agree that schools need to teach more history. This is the problem, at least from where I sit. My daughter is already out of college and law school and my grandson is in Catholic school; I have no dog in the fight. States have taken to teaching from the books that agree with their perspective on history. Those dolts in Kansas want everything to be taught from a religious perspective, a christian religious perspective, and the idiots in Texas would like to deny that anything racial ever took place.

Now this is where I will get blasted. If there were national standards as to what was to be taught and what year is was to be taught, that would be good. Not what down to what book but what down to what period of time or American versus World history. There is nothing wrong with teaching from classic history books, either.
I was reading in USA Today about the 100 greatest non-fiction books of all time. See link

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/jun/14/100-greatest-non-fiction-books.

I know some of you radical righties might have a problem with that but we centery people don't. Think about it. It's not such a bad idea.


Vicki from Pasadena

MathMom said...

Doing math word problems helps reading comprehension for struggling readers more than anything I've ever seen. The student really has to dig for the meaning to get the right answer.

Then, with his or her good comprehension, he or she can tackle history, and understand it.

bagoh20 said...

Why was success possible before with less technology, less education of educators, less studies and data about learning, less money, less government help, no Department of Education, people living in remote frontier areas, worse plumbing, heating, infrastructure, and nutrition, and on and on.

Two words: "bad ideas" We have more than ever of that, and all in the name of progress. This is one of the basic reasons conservative thinking is better. It doesn't need to change what ain't broken, and it's not afraid to look backward to find solutions.

bagoh20 said...

Let's not forget that these less successful students of today have much better educated parents - and all other surrounding adults - than the previous generations.

Is that a benefit or an obstacle?

Coketown said...

The make and serial number of the spark plug is not important. It's where it goes in the engine, and what it does.

That was a really awful metaphor for what you're trying to get across. But even so, I disagree completely. Taking your spark plug metaphor further, you're not arguing that we teach kids where it goes and what it does; you're arguing that we teach kids alternating currents and magnetic fields--the "context" that allows a spark plug to work. Where it goes and what it does are just facts divorced of context--the "names and dates" of history. It also ignores entirely how kids learn. You teach kids multiplication tables and families of facts. You don't teach them the history of number theory. They need a broad base of facts so that when they're older and more sophisticated they can synthesize their knowledge into a theoretical framework, and decide for themselves whether Zinn is a fucking moron. Which he is. Or was. He's dead.

mccullough said...

Upon graduating high school, the goal should be for people to be fairly autodidatic and be able to think for themselves. For the most part, Americans still have a can-do attitude. People start their own businesses, raise their families, etc.

This is a great country. Nothing's changed. As liberal or conservative or whatever view primary, secondary, higher education, media, try to instill, people in this country tend to still make up their own minds. The U.S. citizenry is the most charitable in the world. We donate our money to people suffering throughout the world or devasted by earthquakes, tsuanmis or other natural disasters even though most of us couldn't find those countries on a map. We still help our neighbors or fellow citizens in New Orleans or Joplin, Missouri or Tuscaloosa, Alabama when they need our help. It's not because we're inspired by Washington, Lincoln, FDR, Reagan or Obama. It's because we're inspired by each other. We transform ourselves. Our political leaders should be humbled that they get to represent such great people in such a great nation.

Seeing Red said...

Please define "radical righty."

Thank you.

Foobarista said...

Much of human knowledge is basically labels and vocabulary. If you don't know the labels and vocabulary, you can't possibly master the substance, or even know enough of the substance to look it up.

In languages, this means studying vocabulary and grammar. In math, this means memorizing basic arithmetic and multiplication, followed by various formulas (that you can learn to derive later). In history, this means learning events and dates, so you can know and understand basic timelines and proceed to the "fun stuff".

There aren't any shortcuts.

bagoh20 said...

"States have taken to teaching from the books that agree with their perspective on history. Those dolts in Kansas want everything to be taught from a religious perspective, a christian religious perspective, and the idiots in Texas would like to deny that anything racial ever took place."...

I know some of you radical righties might have a problem with that but we centery people don't."


How very even handed and "centery" of you.

Seeing Red said...

Environment
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962)
This account of the effects of pesticides on the environment launched the environmental movement in the US



Typical of The Grauniad - support someone whose theory killed millions.

What is it w/you radical lefties & death?

george said...

I suspect that at least some of the reason history test scores are so low is that too much class time is spent learning hymns to Obama or marching on state capitols.

One thing to remember with kids is that they are new. They don't have much interest in old and musty things. History to many of them is like their Grandpa's truss. It exists but why anyone would need such a thing is unclear. They are too busy learning how things are to have the time or ability to learn why or how things came to be. That is a lot to ask.

But all of that can be overcome by various means. If it couldn't every previous generation of kids would have been just as ignorant of history.

The real problem is that the Founding Fathers and all of the early generations of Americans were completely antagonistic to everything the current crop of teachers believes. They vetted all of the arguments of modern day leftists and found them so wanting that they specifically created a Constitution and government with the express purpose of seeing that such things never come to pass. Asking someone to teach that history fairly would be too much to ask of a leftist.

So now we are left with both the adult and the children in situations for which they are completely unequipped.

Seven Machos said...

Foobarista -- That's all ridiculously superficial. It's also poor argument. Are you really arguing that learning vocabulary in a foreign language is the same as learning vocabulary in math or history? Are you really arguing that learning multiplication tables is the same as memorizing the word polynomial? Really?

Knowing that the current U.S. Constitution became law in 1789 is utterly meaningless. Knowing the contents of that Constitution is quite useful. Similarly, knowing the exact years that Andrew Jackson was president is beyond stupid. Knowingly generally when he was president and what he did and what his presidency meant is useful.

MarkG said...

Victoria, why don't read all of those books and get back to us with confirmation that it is indeed the "100 greatest non-fiction books of all time."

Coming from the lefty wanker Guardian via USA Today, my initial reaction is "Yeah, right." So you set me straight.

Kirk Parker said...

"...memorizing who the 1st black astronaut was..."

C4, dude, that is not obscure information any more!

Foobarista said...

Machos, I meant "vocabulary" in a more abstract sense. There is some level of label memorization required for all fields.

Too many people think you can basically skip memorization of anything because you can Google everything. But in order to make sense of a subject, you need a basic framework of knowledge in the subject. This is what I meant by "vocabulary and labels", but maybe not well-stated.

Steven said...

The most important thing, in fact, is that they happened at essentially the exact same time.

No, they didn't. The flight from Versailles took place a decade after the surrender of Cornwallis.

Peano said...

To learn reading, you need reading material! Make the reading material nonfiction works about history. Problem solved.

Of course! ANY blonde could have solved that one! Geeze ...

TosaGuy said...

"@TosaGuy: I can take your 'one Jane Austen novel' thing as a joke, but--"

I've met too many 30s/40s women still paying off grad student loans for their Jane Austen-inspired English Lit degrees while they work at Starbucks or, if they are lucky, at some HR job.

mccullough said...

TosaGuy,

Some people like to study literature even if there's no economic payoff. Maybe their more fulfilled than they otherwise would be. I know a few female M.A.s in literature who started their own businesses and are financially successfuly. They're also great conversationalists and tons of fun to hang out with.

Seven Machos said...

The flight from Versailles took place a decade after the surrender of Cornwallis.

Dude, honestly. Please reread what I wrote. After well over 200 years, a decade or so is essentially exactly the same time. In the year 2220, people will say that things happening now occurred at essentially exactly the same time as things that happened in 2001. And that's a true statement in light of the fact that sweeping changes in history will easily be seen over 200 years from now, just as we can see them looking 200 years back.

Get over yourself.

Seven Machos said...

Foobarista -- I am thinking now that the Constitution of 1789 may not have actually become law until a couple years later.

victoria said...

I expected that kind of pushback from people like you, MarkG. I'd like to see a list from your "side of the block". I would give it the same care and attention that you gave my suggestion. You probably looked at where it came from and automatically assumed it was "Ew, radical leftie commie pinko prose." Ignoramus.


Actually look at the list, some great pieces of history, biography and art.

Radical righty- Those who, like the members of the Kansas and Texas schoolboards who want to totally deny that anything like evolution actually existed. Or that "The Big Bang Theory" was heresy.


Vicki from Pasadena

victoria said...

Oh, and by the way, the study of other languages is invaluable to learning and understanding english. I started taking French in 7th grade, took it all the way through high school and in to college. It helped me with spelling, pronunciation, sentence structure and speech.

People who don't understand the connection between learning another language and the impact it has on all other subjects are just ignorant fools.

If that is being classist, so be it.


Vicki

Seven Machos said...

Vicki -- If everybody else is so stupid, how come you live in the shithole of Pasadena?

kimsch said...

The Little Guy just finished fourth grade. The school library was giving away old books. He chose a book about the Arizona Memorial.

He's reading at an 8th grade level. He reads every night for a half hour to his dad.

He's read the entire Diary of a Wimpy kid series, The Chronicles of Narnia, and is now working on the Harry Potter series.

Of course, we supplement his public school education. He likes to watch the Science Channel and Discovery Channel and he likes to get history and science books from the library.

When I was a junior in high school, the English teacher said to us: "The Norman Invasion was in 1066. You will never forget this fact because it was totally out of context with the course work." She was right. I have never forgotten when the Norman Invasion was or the circumstances of that class. Of course that was prior to the Dept of Ed. According to Wikipedia Carter signed it into law Oct 17, 1979 and it didn't take effect until May 16, 1980. I graduated from High School on June 11, 1980 so I wasn't really affected by the Dept of Ed...

Seven Machos said...

Kim -- How was 1066 out of context?

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Seven Machos said...

Dude, honestly. Please reread what I wrote. After well over 200 years, a decade or so is essentially exactly the same time.

Sorry, no. No matter how far back you look, a decade is still 10 years of causes and effects; and unless you're looking quantum mechanically, cause precedes effect. Even if it's only a contributor, not an out-and-out cause. Our revolution preceding the French revolution had impact on the French revolution.

I think that you're right in a general sense, that specific dates aren't meaningful in themselves; but a timeline that puts events in relation to each other in time and space is crucial to understanding history.

rcocean said...

I agree with Althouse -but few Educrats do. They like fiction. They like teaching fiction. Its the closest thing to getting paid for reading fiction. Straight history is boring - to them.

Hence, all the Lit classes.

kimsch said...

Seven,

1066 was out of context because it was English class, not history class. I think we were reading Lord of the Flies or A Turn of the Screw or The Lottery then...

wv: forsonic: Now that there's a restaurant closer to my house than Aurora, IL, I don't have as far to go for sonic...

Seven Machos said...

Martin -- Then we disagree. Because the fact that the American Revolution came before the French Revolution is the absolute ass-most boring thing about the two events.

Fred4Pres said...

Especially when it is re-written history used to mold their little minds in thinking the United States is a force of terrible evil in the world.

And Cuba, NoKo, and Venezuela are enlightened states.

MarkG said...

Vicky,

Here's a comparison of mean SAT scores for college-bound seniors. 2010 Reading/math/writing.

Calif.: 501/516/500
Kansas: 590/595/567

So those bible-thumping evolutionists in Kansas that you repeatedly refer to are outdoing California. What do they teach in California? Should anyone really be taking education advice from you? I don't think so.

andinista said...

To the little old moby from Pasadena:

You gotta be, cuz there's no way anybody could actually believe what you wrote. However, for a one time deal, I'll respond.

1. Seems like TX's economy is doing something right, and CA's is in the toilet. Sounds like sour grapes.

2. There's no definitive connection with learning about evolution, and being able to lead a successful life. You could die happy and wealthy with lots of adoring grandkids and believe in Creationism all your life. Knowledge of the scientific theory of evolution is not necessary in any sense for a successful life in the 21st century.

3. Your derision of TX and KS, and your call for national standards, shows you to be a cultural eugenicist: a faux-intellectual with serious scientific misunderstandings and illusions of fitness, and a willingness to cull those who disagree with you.

See how easy that was? That's why you're a moby.

mccullough said...

Fred4Pres,

It's usually college that tries to instill that nonsense into students. Most students make it through school without thinking Che or Castro are better than Jefferson, to the extent they think about it at all. It's only when people hit college that they become ideological. And of those who to college, most make it through by mocking professors behind their back while writing papers that reinforce the professors crack-pot theories.

By the way, today's the anniversary of the Magna Carta.

Fred4Pres said...

The problem with a lot of "history" is that it is fiction. From Howard Zinn trashing this nation, to the rewriting of history both in the classroom and in popular culture. It is disgraceful how Western Civilization has been trashed.

Fred4Pres said...

mccullough, you would be surprised at what BS is taught to kids about history even in grammar and high school (although I agree college is by far the worst).

Happy Birthday Magna Carta!

MarkG said...

A good example is the term polynomial in math. Fancy word. Intimidating. But the actual work of dealing with the thing called a polynomial is not that hard, or hard to learn. Denominator is another good one. Really?

Maybe this was sarcasm but if it wasn't, provide some equal or better alternatives to words "polynomial" and "denominator."

Sort of related: an uncle once claimed when we were kids that a new number had been discovered. It now went: ...four, five, six, burgle, seven...

Kirk Parker said...

7m,

Time to stop digging! I'm actually on your side regarding the minutiae of dates, etc, but to not know the broad sequence of events--in terms of which one was prior and thus might have influenced the other...

Kirk Parker said...

MarkG,

How about "the number on the bottom"? I understand that some numbers like being there...

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Seven Machos,

Historians debate how much the American example encouraged the French revolutionaries. Historians debate how much French support of the American Revolution contributed to France's debt problem, and thus encouraged the French revolutionaries. Those debates aren't even comprehensible to the student if the student isn't aware of the chronological order of the two revolutions.

Similarly, 200 years from now, scholars won't be able to understand our war in Libya (and Yemen, and Syria, if trends continue) without understanding that they were preceded by 10 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Chronology matters. I can't believe someone as normally sensible as you can argue otherwise.

MarkG said...

I'd like to see a list from your "side of the block". I would give it the same care and attention that you gave my suggestion.

When some reporters from the Wall Street Journal have a circle jerk and create a list of "best" books (because their editor tasked them to), even though they all haven't read them, I'll pass it on.

In fact, there's a book that itself is the best books of all time. "The Lifetime Reading Plan" or some such. The reporters can even cheat if they want.

mccullough said...

Fred4Pres,

My son just finished kindergarten and the teacher (a white woman) had a picture of Obama on the wall of the classroom the whole year. I asked her if she had a picture of W. on the wall when he was POTUS and she looked at me like I was from Mars. She's about my age (40) and I asked her if there was a picture of Ronald Reagan on the wall of any of her classrooms when she was a student. She snapped at me that "Obama is the first black President." I politely followed up with, if Sarah Palin is President in 2 years she'll be the first female President, will you hang her picture up for the students to worship, too?

WoW Lawbringer said...

Because the fact that the American Revolution came before the French Revolution is the absolute ass-most boring thing about the two events.

I submit to you that if you don't think the temporal relationship between the American and French revolutions is important, you don't understand either. France had budget problems precisely because of their never-ending wars with England (of which their support in the American Revolution was simply another chapter). France's revolutionaries were inspired by the success of the American revolutionaries and were spurred on Americans (Franklin and Paine come to mind). Without the American revolution, French history of the 18th century would be rather different (and likewise, without the French Revolution's creation of Napoleon, American borders would be rather different as well.)

Of course, this is what I get for actually getting my historical framework from the Calvin School's homeschooling course instead of a public education.

Seeing Red said...

Ahhh, that partially explains it.


Vicki chose the partially dead language from America's Oldest Enemy, Phwance.

I took Spanish.


Started in 6th grade. Took it all thru HS.

Let's see, Phwance screwed up Mexico, 1 could argue most of their former colonies, & they r on their 5th Republic while we're still on our 1st.

So we have to ask, "What's Wrong with Phwance?"


Or, as a poster on Rantburg, IIRC, put it succinctly:

Phwance had their Revolution & all they got was the Reign of Terror.

The Magna Carta, IMHO, is most certainly more important than the lingua phwanca.

Seeing Red said...

Oxblog I swear put a list of the 10 must reads.


But I can't find it.


I seem to recall Plato, Socrates & possibly The Illiad on the list.

Missing from the lefty Grauniad list.



I wonder why?

Seven Machos said...

I see I've pissed off everyone a bit. Good.

Mark -- FOIL works well as an alternative word. Now, explain to us without looking at any external source what a polynomial is.

Martin -- Nobody -- nobody -- is going to be talking about the war in Libya 200 years from now.

The rest of you -- The American Revolution and the French Revolution are fascinating to compare and contrast, but the fact is that the American Revolution didn't have dick to do with the French Revolution. The American Revolution was a blip on the European radar. Moreover, the treatises influencing both were written long, long before either. The Glorious Revolution and the various establishment of legislatures across Europe had much more to do with the French Revolution than did the American Revolution. Because something happened before something else does not make it a cause of the thing that happened later.

As I have said, what makes both revolutions so great to compare and contrast is that they happened at basically the same time yet went in such opposite directions.

mccullough said...

The French Revolution produced Napoleon. That is its justification.

Carol_Herman said...

I remember the "reading material" that was given to me in 1st Grade.

It was titled: See Jane. See Dick.

Well, no dick. I was mighty disappointed.

The first book I remember reading ... when I was 12 ... I loved so much I read it out loud to my dad. Was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes mysteries.

I think my dad was just happy that I was reading. (But ya know? I still remember those stories. And, I still remember my enthusiasm.)

rcocean said...

Memorable Dates in history:

July 4th, 1776
1492
October 28, 1929
1812
December 7, 1941
9-1-1
November 11, 1918
September 1, 1939
August 15, 1945
November 22, 1963

andinista said...

I'm a little more extreme than 7M. About the only thing in common between the French and American Revolutions is that historians call them revolutions. It's interesting to learn about both, but they are so completely different, if I try to equate them my head hurts.

JAL said...

There are some cool non-fiction books out there about some of the things going on during the WWII that make the history come alive.

Part of the problem teachers have is the excessive paperwork and limited time they have. How to include those books?

But cutting out the diverstiy c**p would save some of that.

Caveat: I am a voracious reader -- but the trick for kids is to find them books about something they like at a level just above where they read best.

When I was in elementary school there were a series of biographies in our library. (They had orange covers.) I knew who George Washington Carver was before anyone knew it was cool to promote black success stories.

I read about what Jane Addams did in Chicago. At 9 years old I seriously did not need to know her politics or ideology. What she did at a level that was appropriate was intersting enough. (And I remember enough to know who and when she was.)

I read about the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman. I knew about Clara Barton and the Civil War and the Red Cross.

I read about Patrick Henry and the Wright Brothers. Florence Nightingale and the Crimean War.

But truth be known, I didn't fall in love with history until I was an adult and realized how extraordinary what I thought was "normal" was.

The deal is, most of the people who comment on Althouse are pretty bright and autodidactic (and we are kind of polynomial, too, some constant, some variable, and a few exponents. Or is that expatriots? ;-) )

The problem is getting kids who live-and-die-by-texting to read.

Related to this discussion is the news that some school have decided to quit teaching kids how to write cursive.

Cursive, for some, is headed the way of Latin. (Which if one had a passing acquaintence with, one would know what a polynomial is.)

I will have absolutely no problem with my kids if they want to homeschool their kids (now babies). I have no doubt they will produce widely read and truly knowledgeable kids who will become responsible adults.

I do feel like many public have a goal other than educating kids by equiping them with the tools they need to figure stuff out.

(And every kid able to needs to memorize the multiplication tables.)

JAL said...

That is - "public schools"

Insert key got tapped accidentally.

wv ingsain
The teaching of Zinn history in public schools is ingsain.

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Lisa said...

I assume you want an honest answer.

Because of NCLB, at the elementary level, students in our district get ~ 30 minutes of EITHER Social Studies or Science a day. Never both. They spend almost 2 hours on reading instruction and 45 minutes on math.

At the elementary level, we use a guided reading program which is a mix of non-fiction and fiction books at the level of the child.

At the middle school level, we have 55 minutes for math, science, ss and language arts. Social studies includes not just history but geography. In fact, we spend two years on a geography/history mix. One year is American history. THere is no sequential teaching of history. Reading instruction is primarily fiction though historical fiction is prevalent. No scientific text at all which is a shame.

At the high school level, students are required by law to have four years of language arts, 4 years of math, but only 3 each of science and social studies. Again, it is social studies... not history. Those credits can include economics, civics, geography, psychology or history courses. I don't know if there is a required course or not.

But the main reason history isn't being taught sequentially to all students is because it isn't mandated like other things.

The Drill SGT said...

rcocean said...
Memorable Dates in history:


To be fair, those are memorable in US History. Widen it to Western Civ with:

732
1066
1215
1453
1683
1815
1848
1948
1989

damikesc said...

Apparently our teachers --- who, mind you, are horribly underpaid and our the REAL heroes in our society --- are unable to multi-task with teaching whatsoever with kids.

I bet if we paid them a lot more, they'd get much better at their jobs or something.

Largo said...

I'm with Machos seven-eights of the way. Sampling string quartets of Handel and Beethoven with my nine year old son. Told him Beethoven learned a great deal of quartet writing (and symphonic writing, and sonata form) from Haydn. Told an anectode to make it stick. When young and brash, Beethoven pretty much said that Haydn had taught him nothing. Older Beethoven would acknowledge the debt.

What facts did he learn in these comments? Than Beethoven wrote string quartets. That Haydn wrote string quartets. Than Haydn preceeded Beethoven. That the two were (probably) near contemporaries, that Beethoven was probably within a generation.

This temporal nexus does not require memorization of dates.

How fast did musical styles change? From classicism to romanticism? Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique premiered in the year Beethoven died. That tells you how fast! Well, you need to have a feeling for the romanticism of Berlioz... and if Beethoven lived to be one hundred then this would be less striking. How old did Beethoven live? Lets find out!

After a conceptual nexus is built, knowledge of particular dates become more useful, and the dated themselves more memorable. But "early nineteenth century, circa 1820" suffices until it does not.

Largo said...

[breaking the comment up here]

You want political context? Who was Beethoven's contemporaries? Beethoven dedicated his third symphony to the 'great man' Napoleon, only to scratch it out when Napoleon had himself mad emperor. What year was that again? Frankly, I don't recall exactly. But I can find it easily enough.

Dates are important. If I wanted to know how much time Beethoven had spent thinking of setting Schiller's Ode to Joy to music, I am going to want to know the month and day, if possible, when he wrote his fantasy for piano and orchestra.

But the idea that these dates have to come first in order to provide a timeline for thinking about history (or, God forbid, be considered the main point of history) is ludicrous.

Machos says that there is very little that the American and French revolutions have to do with each other, beyond occurring at 'about the same time'. Well, if some aspect of one influenced some aspect of the other, say that. Perhaps it occurred 'three months later' but the date is not immediately important. Maybe it crucially occurred in the winter months, but the particular year is not immediately important.

I rather suspect this is what Machos is saying. Dates only become important when there is a nexus. Provide the nexus first. Dates can be mentioned in passing.

(Just as real vocabulary is learned by hearing words used in passing, rather than by memorizing definitions. But this is a whole different kettle of monkey fish.)

Marshal said...

"Victoria says...Those dolts in Kansas want everything to be taught from a religious perspective, a christian religious perspective, and the idiots in Texas would like to deny that anything racial ever took place.""

Funny, I went to schools in both these states and nothing of the kind ever took place. But there seems to be a particular blindness on this topic among those who congratulate themselves on their own reasonableness. Perhaps they need to find something where they can agree with the left and since the left's economics and history are so obviously idiotic they have to reach for this.

Megan McArdle has the same blindness. Like Victoria she's absolutely certain of her own opinions even though she clearly has no actual evidence other than the second hand reports of left wing ideologues.

Mike said...

This assumes that teachers are held to a rigid block of subjects and allotted time--a zero sum game as it were--and so there is less time for history because more time is devoted to math and reading.

If that's true, then to get more history you have to take something else out. As for me, if I were a principal at a school, I could get "more time for history" by omitting the block of instruction on putting condoms on cucumbers, or maybe by passing up that hot new instructional block on contributions of GLBTG people to politics. I kid you not, that's a block of instruction that will be mandated in California schools. I'm not saying that Paul Revere, Thomas Jefferson and Abe Lincoln weren't worthwhile historical figures, but they're just going to have to make way for Harvey Milk. And we'll also have to spend an hour of instruction on Anthony Weiner.

MarkG said...

Mark -- FOIL works well as an alternative word. Now, explain to us without looking at any external source what a polynomial is.

It means there are multiple terms in a mathematical expression. For example, (x + 1). Everyone knows that, Seven.

AJ Lynch said...

Vicky said:
"Those dolts in Kansas want everything to be taught from a religious perspective, a christian religious perspective, and the idiots in Texas would like to deny that anything racial ever took place."

Do you actually believe what you wrote? "EVERYTHING to be taught from a religious perspective...idiots in Texas...deny ANYTHING racial EVER took place"

If you do, you are a TOTAL moron.

Shanna said...

My daughter got in trouble a decade ago for "secretly" studying for her biology and chemistry CLEPs while in an English class

I was doing other homework/studying in my Chemistry class and my teacher came over and whispered (he was kind of weird like that) in my ear that it was awesome I was using my time wisely by studying for something else.

Kirk Parker said...

andinista,

Who said anything about "equating" them?

JAL,

"Cursive, for some, is headed the way of Latin."

Make that Sumerian, or Linear B.

がんこもん said...

My mother was a first-grade teacher back in the 1950s and early 1960s. I had a number of her old texts and they all used historical fiction. in other words, the protagonists were fictional, but the events and personages were not. Very fun to read - i used to love those old books. I think that historical fiction, when well-written and well-researched, is the answer. Children love a good story and history is full of good stories. It's just that most current historians can't write narrative - they're too busy deconstructing tiny elements of the whole. Go back to historical story-telling and you'll find a lot more people wanting to read history. Scholarly analysis of a single element is fine for grad school. Anything else, stick to story-telling. Just my two cents.

ken in sc said...

Until recently, geography and history were not included in the standardized tests used to measure NCLB progress in South Carolina. The last year I taught a regular class was the first year social studies was included. My students did better than the school district average. I was still treated like dirt, I think, because I was an ex-military conservative history teacher. I retired early.

Shanna said...

I think that historical fiction, when well-written and well-researched, is the answer.

There was a series of books at the library when I was a kid that had a kid (10-12ish I think) that was dropped into some historical backdrop (like the American Revolution) and the story proceeded from there. I loved them, but I can't remember what they were called.

carrie said...

It doesn't, it's just that history has been dumbed down in HS. My son goes to Middleton High School and he tells me (so I may have it wrong) that the history curriculum is being changed at MHS so that regular American history classes (and I think World too) will msinly deal with post WWII history and kids will need to take AP course if they want to have a broader history class. Teachers think kids will find it to be more interesting (i.e., teachers don't want the extra work tht comes with teaching material that kids could find boring, which was the whole premise behind adopting Whole Language (without the phonics component) for teaching kids to read too). Learning needs to be fun!

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