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Those Who Don't Learn History...

Are doomed pass history with a B.

Tiffany Charles got a B in history last year at her Montgomery County high school, but she is not sure what year World War II ended. She cannot name a single general or battle, or the man who was president during the most dramatic hours of the 20th century.

Yet the 16-year-old does remember in some detail that many Japanese American families on the West Coast were sent to internment camps. "We talked a lot about those concentration camps," she said.
I guess they just sort of glossed over the concentration camps were 6 million Jews were exterminated.

Update: Smash finds that there are plenty of motivated teachers passionate about teaching your children just not what you would except. He interviews the lead speaker at a Los Angeles anti-war rally:

But it turns out that Gillian [Russom], the spokesperson for the Los Angeles chapter of the International Socialist Organization, is no “little girl.” Her chapter of the ISO was one of the sponsors of Saturday’s anti-war rally in Los Angeles, where she had the "pole position" as one of the final people to address the crowd of about two thousand demonstrators preparing to march through the heart of downtown LA.

..She’s a high school teacher. In fact, she’s an active member of the United Teachers of Los Angeles, and Progressive Educators for Action

...[Smash] “So, do you try to get your students involved in activism?”

[Russom] "Oh, definitely! I teach the required World History course, but I also teach an elective course on Revolutionary History. Those students are really receptive to new ideas. We cover the Russian Revolution, Chinese Revolution, French Revolution, Mexican Revolution…”

[Smash] “What about the American Revolution?”

[Russom] “Oh, they cover that in US History,”

[Read the rest]

I'm betting she doesn't bother to mention to her students that communism was one of the most spectacularly failures economic system ever created by mankind, and ranks up there in practice as the most brutally oppressive in human history...


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Comments (11)

Maybe I missed this part in... (Below threshold)

Maybe I missed this part in the article, but it seems like it didn't even address how students responded to questions about the Holocaust. I don't think that given the information in the article, it's fair to make the statement that it was "glossed over." Furthermore, as a teacher, I can attest to the fact that often times class discussions or student interest levels overall in the class can determine what students remember, regardless of whether or not a teacher makes a concerted effort to cover all the bases. Frequently, the teacher must decide between forcing facts down students' throats (of which none will be remembered) or responding to student interest and allowing students to spend more time discussing a particular issue. Thus arises the question of whether students should have to spend more time focusing on the internment camps or the Holocaust (though certainly not eliminating either). Unless there is evidence to the contrary, I think to imply that the Holocaust must have been "glossed over" is incredibly unfair to the school.

In my experience from discu... (Below threshold)
Pat:

In my experience from discussion with US students, WWI usually beginns in 1917 and WWII in 1941...... This means, that their knowledge does not include the crucial years before the US involvment and if that is true, how can they know anything about the reasons and background for the wars?

But I fear that "modern teaching" has reached also European and German schools and I dread to ask German students some indepth questions about the Third Reich and WW2. At least the Holocaust gets a lot of airtime in history education, that is one thing you can be certain off.

And what ever happened to really learn facts and data in school instead of just "discussing" things in class. I had a teacher in geography who made us learn maps from Europe, Russia, Afrika and Northern America. learing meant here, that in the final test you got a map with just the outer marks of Russia, for example, and you had to draw a given number of rivers, mountains and of course major cities acurately into the map. And in history you have to memorize a number of dates and names, if you want to even start some serious form of discussion, right? Of course it is boring in the beginning, but once you've memorized this crucial information, you can compare and analyse much better and discussion makes more sense and fun. And that was only 15 years ago.

But looking at today's media, having a discussion without so much as knowing the basics about the topics is very much en vogue, it would seem

Addendum: while I certainly... (Below threshold)
Pat:

Addendum: while I certainly do not want to diminish or relativate the extermination of Jews in the concentration camps, I would like to point out that just for fairness reasons, that hundreds of thousand of gypsies, gays, social democrats and communists, active opposition members from German nobility or labor unions as well as prisoners of war have been murdered/exterminated as well and should be remembered (in history lessons) just as well.

Cheerio from Old Europe

Sharleen, your analysis is ... (Below threshold)
Mike:

Sharleen, your analysis is frightening considering that you call yourself a teacher. You, of all people, should be embarassed, not making excuses for this girl's lack of knowledge. It's disturbing that this girl confuses internment camps with concentration camps. And this trend to learning the social history of WWII instead of the military history should alarm everyone. Teachers should help shape discussion of topics in their class, not let the kids dictate where it goes.

Sure you want the kids interested in what they're being taught, but if they're not taught the entire history, how are they learning anything from their discussions?

Mike, if you read my commen... (Below threshold)

Mike, if you read my comment carefully, you'll note that I do mention that neither the history of the Holocaust nor that of the internment camps ought to be neglected. Furthermore, I know of no teacher who does not base class discussion on prior reading of the material. I cannot speak for this particular school, but from what I know, students become acquainted with historical facts before discussing them in class, unless the discussion in meant to be preparatory for reading. Of course one cannot generalize about what happens in every classroom, so I cannot speak for the details of this particular case other than those presented in the article.

I am neither ashamed nor embarrassed about the move toward considering social history; however, I support social history when it is not at the expense of eliminating factual knowledge. Furthermore, I do not make excuses for anyone's lack of knowledge and don't see how my previous comment could have implied this; rather, I meant to explore how students might remember particular historical moments more than others. If a student cannot remember the class material, that act of forgetting is the student's responsibility. If a student found a particular historical moment more memorable than another, slighting the teacher when we have no evidence that the teacher neglected to teach the Holocaust is unfair.

...they are re-writing our ... (Below threshold)

...they are re-writing our history...

Then after World War Two... (Below threshold)

Then after World War Two, it got kinda quiet, 'till Superman challenged FDR to a race around the world. FDR beat him by a furlong, or so the comic books would have you believe. The truth lies somewhere in between...

--Abe Simpson

It takes a Village II... (Below threshold)
Paul:

It takes a Village II

Before anyone gloats about ... (Below threshold)
Fritz:

Before anyone gloats about the quality of your public school education...

How many of you know that thousands of German and Italian Americans were also forced into internment camps operated by the INS during WWII?

Do you know that thousands of Germans, Italians, and Japanese from Latin America were deported to the United States and placed in the internment camps here?

Did you know that many of these people were imprisoned until late 1947 -- two years after the war had ended?

Did you know that most of those who were sent to the United States from Latin America were not allowed to return there?

The WWII internment camps that existed for West Coast Japanese Americans is only part of the story. How would you have felt to be a second or third generation Peruvian of Japanese heritage who was kidnapped, sent to a camp in the U.S. for five years, and then eventually shipped off to Japan where you're viewed as a foreigner?

Fritz,Everything y... (Below threshold)

Fritz,

Everything you said is relevant and important with respect to the nature of the internment camps during WWII.

As for its relevance IN World War II--eh, far less important. At bottom, things like Rosie the Riveter and the varying details you speak of are trivia.

Interesting trivia, but trivia nonetheless. I don't expect a high school education to impart the details of the interment camps--it's enough to know they existed and why. Anything more detailed than that basic acknowledgment can/should be covered in a college level course. Teaching of WWII should at least cover the major events of the war.

History doesn't just "happen"--and it is for that reason that knowing about Patton, Rommel, the Battle of the Bulge, etc etc is far more important than knowing that Lucky Strike gave up it's green for the war effort...

Unfortunately you find this... (Below threshold)
Pat:

Unfortunately you find this kind of teacher like Ms. Russom everywhere in the world. While it is certainly a hard and tough job to teach children, it is also a privilege and people like Russom seem to abuse this privilege just in order to push their own agenda. I never had a problem with a teacher (at least not in the higher classes) who was clearly supporting a certain party or certain political idea if he seperated his points of view from the basic teaching. You can always teach the material at hand which is necessarry to learn first in order to make up your own mind before entering into a discussion. In that discussion you can than claim that the history books, the current governement or whatever majority is thinking a) about the topic while you as teacher are thinking b) for reasons c,d, and e. That is fair enough. But what this teacher does is indoctrination, nothing else, and it has no place in school, not even in an "elective course".

Strangely enough it is usually the left teachers who step over the line mostly. A few years ago in my old school the 17 year old daughter of our state's prime ministers was verbally attacked and insulted in class by her teacher for things her father did as a politician and which the teacher did not like. The teacher was sacked shortly afterwards and while I thought that everyone would agree that this behaviour was totally out of order, some lefties still cried havoc over the sacking of the teacher being totally overreacted. And I thought that this Nazi idea of "familiy punishment" has ceased to exist in the cultivated western world...... silly me!

Oh, yeah, btw: why wouldn't Ms. Russom include some of the interesting younger revolution like the ones in Hungary, Techoslovakia or East-Germany where people rsiked a lot to get rid of their Sozialist leadership




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