Monday, February 08, 2010

Dumbing Down Continues...

The early history of the founding of our nation is not an easy subject to learn. The 17th and 18th centuries are difficult for modern Americans to grasp. It's easier to understand a more recent time. Still, there are very important concepts in early American history that young adults should learn about, details that may be embarrassing to older generations. Especially in North Carolina, we have a past that is often not pleasant. Our young people MUST learn about these things if we are to improve our condition.

Slavery was an atrocious period in our history. America had a unique variety of it. Black and red men and women were treated as pure possessions, with no more rights than the family dog. Until 1835, in North Carolina, the Native American enjoyed a little better status. But, in the reworking of the state constitution and the introduction of the category "free persons of color," black and red alike suffered immeasurably.

A new piece of legislation will stop the older children in our state from learning the lessons of our past. Proponents of this legislation say that children will learn more history BEFORE high school and that that is all they will need. During high school, they will learn about the Civil War, Reconstruction, and beyond. The young adults will not be taught the lessons of what caused slavery, its early horrors... and I'm sure that they won't tell those truly horrible tales to mere children.

This is clearly an avoidance of guilt. It has always been about avoiding the guilt of slavery in our state. The nation's trend is to teach more about it, especially since Brown University's willingness to explore the issue with their Steering Report (available as a link from this blog's main page). But, North Carolina's desire is to bury the past.

Blind avoidance of the past can be deadly to our future. You don't wear a blindfold when in the presence of a lion to keep from being eaten. The social problems that have resulted from slavery will gnaw away at our culture (as they continue to today) unless they are clearly taught and studied... and not by little children who cannot hope to understand the intricacies involved. It must be taught in high school to the older students who CAN understand the concepts.

As a history major, I have taken "survey" courses in early American history. They are designed as reviews of what students should remember from high school. In this course, HIST-1050, my instructor routinely gave an introductory quiz to find out what the students knew. Even BEFORE this new curriculum travesty, almost 50% of the students polled did not know the name of our first president. These students were taught this in high school (up till now) and they did not know. Whereas, this new curriculum may or may not improve this response, will these "well-instructed" children remember why black people were pulled from Africa and brutally beaten, many of them dying before even setting foot in America? I seriously doubt that they will even know that we did that. And, once they get into high school, we'll skip telling them about it.

This is important to know. But, like I said, it's also embarrassing for our state and our country. At least some folks, like Brown University in Rhode Island are working toward a "reckoning." If you want to explore this issue, I urge you to look here: http://www.ncpublicschools.org/newsroom/news/2009-10/20100205-01 and here: http://www.ncpublicschools.org/curriculum/socialstudies/scos/

Don't let this happen, folks... not again!

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