Monday, July 10, 2006

Michigan tries "history"

Michigan produces history "standards" (called "content expectations") that sound more like a joke.

Indeed, the draft "expectations" say nothing about America before 1890, leaving the nation's foundation years, its crucial philosophical groundings and the Civil War to elementary and middle schools. In the post-1890 studies, no mention is to be found of Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan. Same for Henry Ford, Rosa Parks, Andrew Carnegie, Douglas MacArthur and Earl Warren -- and Hitler, Stalin and Tojo. Similarly absent: the development of mass production and the rise of industrial unions, D-Day, defeat of fascist Germany and imperial Japan, the Korean War and the toppling of Soviet communism. In a flash of good sense, curriculum writers rejected the lead consultant's attempt to ban use of "America" and "American" as "ethnocentric," potentially offensive to the rest of the hemisphere.
Instead of history, there is an ideological agenda:

The standards do direct study of, for example, the environmental movement, the American Indian protests at Wounded Knee, Rosie the Riveter, the World War II internment of Japanese-Americans, acid rain, the automobile's contribution to global warming, consequences in the Persian Gulf of U.S. energy policy and alternatives to President Truman's use of the atomic bomb.


elementaryhistoryteacher said...

How can you understand Rosie the Riveter without understanding all the whys behind her riveting? What concerns me most about standards of this sort is it is assumed that teachers know their subject matter and can fill in the needed gaps that aren't mentioned in the standard. Unfortunately in the younger grades and even in middle school I observe teachers who stick to the standard only and give no background or any addtional information mainly because they don't know the material.

Anonymous said...

Great points and oh so very true!!

Quincy said...

These standards are deeply troubling. The one thing that really encapsulates it, more than anything, is the mention of alternatives to using the A-Bombs to end WWII. The way this is presented clearly shows that the authors of these guidlines had NO understanding the Japanese mindset during the war. (I have heard many first-hand accounts of this mindset from my relatives who lived in Japan during the war, so it's not as if this is just history written by the victors.)

Truman did the only responsible thing in the situation, since not stopping the war then and there with the A-Bombs would have been a much greater tragedy than the bombs themselves. Millions dead on both sides as Americans went city to city, street by street, rooting out an organized military as convinced of the righteousness of their cause as Al-Qaeda is today. Many members of the military were fanatics, others were so bound by their sense of honor that surrender could not be accepted. In fact, there was a faction that wanted to keep the war going even after two of Japan's cities had been leveled by atomic bombs. They were minutes away from preventing the surrender and prolonging the war. Minutes. Two atomic bombs barely caused Japan to surrender. Imagine how many of their own people would have to die in an invasion before the zealots gave up.

Suddenly, the A-Bombs go from horrendous evils to necessary ones that Truman had to use to save lives and perform his duty as Commander in Chief of the armed forces. Truman had a duty to make decisions that were good for the armed forces under his command, to make sure as many of those men came back home in one piece as possible. It would have been an atrocity to subject both the US military and the civilian population of Japan to have committed to a long, drawn out land attack when there was another way.

The problem for many in the education establishment with presenting this situation in its harsh, ugly reality is that the moral and ethical decision, to end the war through the A-Bomb, is not the one that fits their ideology. Many other situations in history are just like this, and are often played equally as badly.

History is a lens through which to view the present. We can learn from our past what is successful and what is not, but only if what we've learned is an open-eyed examination of the good, the bad, and the ugly of history, not the propaganda of these so-called guidelines.

"Ms. Cornelius" said...

I completely echo Elementaryhistoryteacher. Of the 10 people who teach social studies classes at the middle school near me, none of them are history majors or minors. This leads to something worse than no knowledge: incorrect knowledge which is firmly entrenched.

rightwingprof said...

Of course, they didn't do what needed to be done, and fire all the moonbats on the state dept of education who produced this nonsense.