October 19, 2013

The Root Cause of Our Problem

The Anchoress has found something deeply worrisome. It is all the more so because, as someone who spends a fair amount of time on a college campus, I find bonecrushing historical ignorance unnervingly unsurprising....and yet...

... even by the abysmal standards set by today's low expectations, a couple of the answers here are genuinely mortifying.

...For instance, while it would normally be somewhat heartening to hear a College Freshman know the name Franz Ferdinand, the context in which the name was invoked is rather dismaying.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 11:52 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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"Franz Ferdinand"

I didn't watch it; I just read your transcript.  I'm guessing they knew there was a famous dude because of the band named after him?

Posted by: Mikeski at Sun Oct 20 00:56:12 2013 (Zlc1W)

2 Some twenty years ago I was having a conversation with a friend of mine and the topic of WWII came up.  At one point, in all bright-eyed innocence, his 19-year-old boarder asked us, "Who's Auschwitz?"

Posted by: Mauser at Sun Oct 20 03:15:45 2013 (TJ7ih)

3  Students today don't learn about WWII because America was the good guys in that war. They are only taught about events that make America look bad.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Sun Oct 20 06:47:16 2013 (+rSRq)

4 My high school had a pretty good review of WW2 in my American history class...

...because I taught it. ;p

It's not entirely because teachers are all thralls of a liberal conspiracy. A lot of it is because the way history curricula in the US are usually structured.

Usually US history is taught as a pair of courses, split up more or less at the Civil War. This means that the start of the second course is generally going to cover Reconstruction, and then industrialization and the rise of pretty much all of the civil rights and labor movements. The curriculum is packed full of stuff here (and a lot of it has a pretty heavy lean to the left, to be sure - labor good, companies bad; women's suffrage; evil capitalism causing world depression; New Deal saves the nation...)

By the time teachers are coming up to WW2, they've burned up too much time, it's already April, and they're looking for things to cut. Can't cut the civil rights movement. Can't cut Vietnam (in the sense that you want to talk about the draft...) So a lot of them shave WW2 down to the bare essentials. No projects, no papers, just "here's the box score" and talking a little about the home front.

I get that WW2 is an awkward fit between the distinction between US history and world history (and most world history courses don't make it anywhere near WW2). Realistically, what needs to happen is a re-evaluation of the history curriculum - either it needs to be split into three lobes, colonial-Civil War-modern, or we need to spend a lot less time talking about early-century social movements and more time talking about any event since 1970. (And the former is more unlikely to happen, unless someone in Texas decides to do it, because all the schoolbooks are written with a two-section split in mind...)

Of course, having the time to address it doesn't mean they'll actually get a good education. Had a history professor in college assert that the US nuked Hiroshima purely to intimidate the Russians and that we knew from crypto intercepts that the Japanese wanted peace... (sigh)

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at Sun Oct 20 14:17:49 2013 (GJQTS)

5 I've been trying for years to get one of the Duck U history professors to let me lecture on the Battle of Midway.  He's expressed interest, but doesn't have time during the traditional school year (too much to cover), and his summer "World War II" class spends most of the six week session on Europe.

This makes me sad.

Posted by: Wonderduck at Sun Oct 20 21:22:42 2013 (GE6XS)

6   You should be reading Freefall Ken, but I think you'll like this particular strip a lot.  http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff2500/fc02413.htm

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at Mon Oct 21 21:59:45 2013 (MNAY3)

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