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History today in my world

Posted January 21st, 2011 at 01:49 PM by Drew

I would like to sit down for a few moments and tell you all about a topic I found rather sad but true from my own personal experience. I was reading a History Today magazine at the library the other day and found and interesting title for a column so I decided to read it.

This article was written by a man called Peter Snow and he was describing on how entrenched the teaching curriculum is with the 20th century and not reaching further back into history. He goes on about how the pre-twentieth conflicts in the classroom are overshadowed by 20th century conflicts like the World Wars. In the article he writes about how we neglect interesting things in history like the Napoleonic Wars if we constantly focus on the next bloodbath filled century.

I began thinking to myself, "that's how my history classes operated when I was in my K-12 school system". Overshadowing a lot of content for only recent history is what I experienced as well. The Revolutionary War was introduced to me around 5th grade, which was interesting but not very much in-depth about it. The Mexican-American War was barely even mentioned during my career as a student. Now I will say that the Civil War and first and second World Wars was decently taught during my last years of Junior High which I found really interesting.

When I arrived in High School the first thing they brought to the table was the Renaissance which was also another new and fascinating subject for me. Soon I became a Junior in High School and guess what the main subject for the class was for weeks? Both the World Wars. Don't get me wrong, I love warfare in general but my classes constantly focused only on learning one era which isn't fun if the learning experience is constantly milked out of one subject or one era.

After a stroll down memory lane and back to the main topic at hand I feel somewhat neglected that the 20th century has sucked up a very nice portion of my history class time. Worst of all was there was nothing to show for it after the final test. We never had state testing on history which I was very disappointed to find out. My schools were too focussed on making kids excel at other subjects (which is good), but they in turn harm history classes for not giving them any incentive to keep their well rounded education. The class itself may feel like a chore by eating up a precious credit hour you could be spending playing games in a resource class to some students.

Now I completely understand that there are constraints within the teaching community since they have to do X, Y, and Z during the semester and have to have their students master or at least somewhat know the content. History classes and their curriculum should be more flexible to start sparking more interest from the students and have them achieve a better understanding than reviewing a time in history over again when they can be learning something new and exciting. To be fair, I've only listed wars as a reference to what I've learned in school since there were other details than just who won what. Another big thing is not all history classes or public school systems are the same as the one I attended but the numbers would support that the United States is slipping in education scores with which it's safe to assume history is also very vulnerable subject to the decay of these scores.

I agree with Mr. Snow that today history classes focus too much on the last generation that the students don't understand how that generation came to exist from the previous one or the one before that. It is very easy to point out in my school system that we didn't even know who came before or after Lincoln or Woodrow Wilson in my senior government class if we were asked about them. History is not something to be neglected my friends because we learn from it and its mistakes. I'd rather learn from past mistakes than to make one for the future.


Here's the article to read online, click here.

Thanks for your time.

This blog is only my personal opinion and it wasn't intended to offend or hurt anyone. Also sorry for grammar errors and typos for those that are picky about them.

-Drew
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