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Fri Dec 14, 2012, 08:29 AM

 

History, who needs it?

A packet of letters arrived the other day from the honors English class at St. Lawrence School in Brasher Falls, N.Y. Snail mail, from high school sophomores? Yes, and honest, witty and insightful snail mail at that. They had been forced to read a book of mine.

“Personally, I don’t like reading about history or learning about it,” wrote one student, setting the tone for the rest of the class.

“The Dust Bowl? Really?” So began another missive. “When we heard we were reading your book…heads dropped. Let me rephrase that, heads fell to the floor and rolled down the hallway.”

You get the drift: history is a brain freeze. And, writers of history, well, there’s a special place with the already-chewed gum in nerd camp for them. But as I read through the letters I was cheered. Some of the last survivors of the American Dust Bowl were high school sophomores when they were hit with the nation’s worst prolonged environmental disaster. In that 1930s story of gritty resilience, the Brasher Falls kids of 2012 found a fresh way to look at their own lives and this planet.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/13/egan-in-ignorance-we-trust/?hp

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Reply History, who needs it? (Original post)
mgc1961 Dec 2012 OP
Odin2005 Dec 2012 #1
Uncle Joe Dec 2012 #6
GTurck Dec 2012 #2
NoRule Dec 2012 #5
PETRUS Dec 2012 #3
NoRule Dec 2012 #4
Howtosolveshootings Dec 2012 #7

Response to mgc1961 (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 09:16 AM

1. It's because the "history" taught in schools is sanitized and boring.

Anything controversial or "un-patriotic" is left out, and the class becomes about remembering dates and reinforcing national patriotic myths.

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #1)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 04:02 PM

6. I agree, too much critical thinking is decoupled from the subject.

However one thing I have found knowing history helps my brain function better, it's far easier to create memory stacks when you can attach years to events.

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Response to mgc1961 (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 09:52 AM

2. School boards...

and others have made history seem irrelevant. I see it as a narrative about why we are here and why some things don't change or change very slowly. History is what my family did last year that changed us this year. It is what my grandchildren have done with their lives and how it has effected them now and in their futures. It could be taught so much better if we made it real, vital, and pertinent.

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Response to GTurck (Reply #2)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 12:12 PM

5. I agreee that

It could be taught so much better if we made it real, vital, and pertinent.


I believe history is fascinating to the vast majority of folks - the problem may be that history is not framed as relevant to us by our textbooks and teachers. My old textbook did have an introductory chapter explaining why history is important... but explaining and framing are different have different effects.

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Response to mgc1961 (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 10:14 AM

3. "the only new thing in the world is the history you don’t know" nt

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Response to mgc1961 (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 12:07 PM

4. Unfortunately the position of high school history teacher is unattractive

Unattractive, at least, to people who would feel passionately about teaching history to young folks. Even so, high school teachers are under so much administrative pressure to teach their students enough to do well on standardized tests, they do not have the time to get their students involved in a discussion and reflection of history. Add in the stress of being underpaid and overworked, and students' lack of motivation to learn history, and you are left with a system that is nearly unable to frame history in an interesting, meaningful way.

But, oh well, you don't need to understand history to occupy most of modern industrial professions .

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Response to mgc1961 (Original post)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 03:56 AM

7. I'll tell you who needs it

 

Repugs

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