Are History Lessons Being Neglected?

Is history important to you? I’ve always loved history. Mostly American history but I really do love all history. So when I read this, it made me feel bad.

Who decides what gets taken out of our classroom curriculum’s? Remember when we talked about Cursive or keyboarding? Now someone is trying to tell us our kids don’t need as much history.

Here is an excerpt from the news article:

“But the teachers say that improvement is needed, and worry that the emphasis on math, reading and the sciences may detract from learning about history, which they say is crucial to becoming solid citizens with a sense of national identity.”

How can anyone feel history isn’t important? How will our kids learn about the wars we’ve been in or how all of our founding fathers came and built this country? Or about the Constitution? Or who invented everything. There is SO much history to us that I really feel we need to all know.

What subjects do you feel are the most important? Who decides what our kids learn and is there anything we can do? Do you think history should take a back seat to math, and the science’s?

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8 Responses to Are History Lessons Being Neglected?

  1. SKL says:

    Well, I have to say that the “history” kids learn in school isn’t pure history. A lot of it is dumbed down and fictionalized in order to conform it to “ideals” that educators want to teach our kids. And those “ideals” are often very different from the ideals that were actually behind key historical events, as well as the ideals of the kids’ parents.

    I think they should teach basic history, but beyond a bare-bones timeline, it could be taught very effectively just by having kids read good historical literature. I recall most of my Social Studies classes as being really boring. Even high school history was so dry. I did know a lot, though, from my own independent reading. So I’d rather they gave my kid 45 minutes to read a good old-fashioned book than bored her with 45 daily minutes of “the Louisiana purchase. The Missouri compromise. Bla, bla, bla.”

  2. Laura says:

    I agree with SKL on the methodology. There are so many ways to learn History other than the timeline, “learn all these dates, spit them out for the test, then immediately forget them” method. Get some authors who are interested in the topics to recreate the stories. If the books were written well, and read like novels, I think you’d have a LOT more interest in the classes. Do re-enactments, GO to re-enactments. Watch well-made documentaries, like Ken Burns’ Civil War, not those stupid and boring filmstrips that we were made to watch.

    I agree that History is just as important as anything else they are taught in school, and FAR more important than some of the things that are covered now. I also have to wonder about general pedagogy – the methods of teaching. Every year we hear about new techniques, “better” ways of doing things. And every year, our children are dumber than last year. Nobody teaches Phonics anymore – apparently, it’s not important for kids to know how the letters are supposed to sound, or how they work together to form a word. But at the same time, I see so many examples of how kids cannot spell. We’re told that we MUST have a college education in order to function in the most basic circles of society, when many of our Founding Fathers never progressed past 8th grade, and they could out write, out think and out maneuver half of the Master’s Degreed people now.

    Forgive me, it’s late, I’ve had a wicked long day, and I’m rambling.

    To answer your question… I absolutely think history is just as important as math and science. I think it’s a massive mistake to not teach it, because there’s more of it every day. I do think that it could be taught in chunks, that it could be taught better and more effectively, and that if they no longer require the Civics Test for 8th Grade Graduation, that it should make a comeback. History is far too important to ignore. If we do, we are doomed to repeat it. In fact, we already are.

    • avomnia says:

      John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and others went to Harvard before entering political life. Thomas Jefferson attended William and Mary. Benjamin Franklin and George Washington were largely self-educated, but Franklin especially was versed in classical literature of the Greeks and Romans. John Adams was entirely self-educated until he finally went to law school, but he would spend copious amounts of time reading and transcribing classic literature in Latin; his wife, Abigail, was not schooled but incredibly intelligent due to the massive amount of reading she did her entire life.

      All of the founders knew how fundamentally important a solid education was to the greater good of early American society. I agree completely that history, as it is taught now, is dreadfully boring. History makes some decent stuff which can be far more educational than the materials used when we were kids.

  3. I think history is incredibly important, but the problem is that (at least here in Israel) history is so often taught blandly, as lists of facts to be spewed back out during exams.

    I hated history classes in high school. I was bored, and often felt frustrated at my difficulties with memorization, because that was honestly how you needed to study in order to pass the tests with good grades.
    Studying history in college has been an eye-opening experience for me. I took two courses so far, and neither one had particularly inspiring teachers, although they both clearly loved their subjects. And yet – AND YET, even with the LACK of an inspiring teacher, I learned to love history. Why? Because instead of reading textbooks, we read source material – we read essays by Erasmus, Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, Elizabeth I’s biography, excerpts of autobiographies by Soviet spies in the Cold War, academic essays about Cold War era films… Reading all these different things made history come alive for me.

    History is incredibly important. It gives us perspective, makes us see how countries, societies, and humanity itself have all moved forward, changing and adapting.

  4. c says:

    I think all subjects are critical to the development of an intelligent and thoughtful citizenry. I’ve always liked the idea of mixing linked subjects. For example, while studying Reconstruction in history class, students would read literature from that period in English class, while also being shown art and presented with music from that same period in art class (as if there were still art and music programs in our schools.) Even science class could spend a small portion of class time discussing popular medical trends of a particular era and how far we’ve come, or teach about the important researchers, discoveries and inventors of that era before getting into its current lesson plans.

    The tricky thing about history is deciding whose voices matter. I believe presenting a chorus of American voices, the many perspectives of history, makes it interesting. As a commentor above stated, history is more than timelines. History includes the ideology of the times, the people involved, the culture. I think if school boards and state boards would realize this and allow schools the time and resources to truly delve into the subject, students would be more interested in history and do better in the subject.

  5. Nikki says:

    History is very important. But as a kid, a teenager, I couldn’t wait to get out of History class. It was just so boring. I think history is a subject that needs to be taught by the right teacher! Not some old fart with a monotone voice. That’s just from my experience. Now, History is probably my favorite thing to learn about. It helps that I live with 2 major history buffs. I’d say we watch it 80% of the time. I think Bailey will get more out of that, then he will in a classroom. I hope not, but that’s just my feeling.

    Math is obviously VERY important and if I had to rate which was more important, it would probably be on top of history. But they are all key subjects we need to learn and take seriously. In schools today, no one primary subject should be taught more of than another. Kids grow up to be History teachers, historians. That wouldn’t be fair to them.

  6. avomnia says:

    If we don’t know our history, how can we possibly understand ourselves? Where will any country wind up if they have zero sense of their own posterity? History doesn’t repeat itself — individuals repeat the same mistakes made throughout history due to ignorance or sheer hubris; in our case we are in deep trouble mostly because of ignorance, a willful ignorance.

    You can’t market history unless it’s in a souvenir shop stamped on coffee mugs, keychains, t-shirts, and other trinkets. A “culture” enamored with glitz and celebrity can hardly hope to stabilize its underpinnings of liberty unless prior lessons of history can be made commercially viable in the guise of American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, or Survivor.

    I don’t disagree that learning history in school is boring; as it was for all of you so it was for me. Just as Em and Nikki have attested, I, too, now love history, but not because of what I learned in school. I read books, watched documentaries, visited Wasington D.C. and saw with my own aging eyes what God Himself blessed our founders with . . . the inviolable knowledge of Nature’s Law, of the blessings of Liberty.

    I do what I can to teach my son these things because I know the school won’t do it properly. I don’t expect him to read all the books I have, but he has assumed — in his own reserved way — the same spirit of patriotism I keep warmed in my own heart. That slowly glowing ember will burn hotter somewhere down the road, and I hope he will pass it on.

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