Why is history class screwed over?

Oct 2018
13
Olympia WA, Pacific North West
#1
Why are schools, at least American private and public schools putting history to the side? Is there a certain reason behind the lack of support of the historical community?
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,110
Portugal
#2
Why are schools, at least American private and public schools putting history to the side? Is there a certain reason behind the lack of support of the historical community?
I don’t think that this is solely an issue in the USA. For instance in my country, Portugal, history classes have been losing weekly hours in the school schedules at least in the last 15 or 20 years.

The focus has been much more centred in the so called hard sciences and less centred in the social and human sciences. And I think this is a world trend with its inherent advantages and disadvantages.
 
Feb 2016
549
ROK
#3
I went to school before this trend began, so this is very interesting to me. In the country that I'm in, a lot of the younger generation are unaware of the historical facts that are considered as common knowledge to us. I think the reason for history having been taught in the past was because the people in charge at that time experienced major tragic events. They understood that history needed to be taught in order to prevent the future generations from repeating the mistakes of the past.
 
Nov 2013
682
Texas
#4
Why are schools, at least American private and public schools putting history to the side? Is there a certain reason behind the lack of support of the historical community?
Put simply Universities are desinged to train drones for governments, corporations and beuracracy; and employees for research projects. Another is that other universities, like other institutions, tend to filter for obedience and it could be that history is irrelavant to profitable obedience; in contrast to the sciences.
 
Likes: sparticulous

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#6
Why are schools, at least American private and public schools putting history to the side? Is there a certain reason behind the lack of support of the historical community?
Of what practical use is history? Will it make you a better engineer? A better doctor? A better accountant? Sure the subject is interesting, but is it useful in everyday life?

The other issue is it has become more controversial. Teach history to satisfy those on the left, you will anger the right. Teach history that satisfies the right, you will anger the left. By not teaching it, you don't have deal with that trouble.
 
Nov 2010
7,510
Cornwall
#7
It was binned in Britain long ago. Ostensibly to make way for a curriculum that made sure people could read and write etc - which they still can't! Learning all sujects seemed to work OK in the old days - sigh

When they do any, it seems to be about Nazis and stuff. Which is barely history anyway!!

Mind you, as a lover of battles and wars even as a kid, I found the history subjects we had to do like the industrial revolution and the agricultural revolution horrifcally boring. Could've put me off history for life!!

I guess nowadays some posters/teachers would focus on whether Caesar committed a war crime, or Almanzor showed racism? Or maybe bullying by Atila or Alaric?? Or perhaps homosexuality in the crusades?

Or of course slavery, or slavery, or slavery, or....................
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,645
US
#8
The other issue is it has become more controversial. Teach history to satisfy those on the left, you will anger the right. Teach history that satisfies the right, you will anger the left. By not teaching it, you don't have deal with that trouble.
This seems to be an issue in the U.S. From the history lessons my 10 year old brings home I see more alternative history.
 
Feb 2016
549
ROK
#9
I believe that the students would find History courses to be interesting if taught in more detail. Then they'd understand how the events happened and the significance of it. Unfortunately, the schools don't have enough time for that.

When I was a kid, the American schools were good at teaching the American Revolution and the Civil War. They were more vague on the events that occurred later.
 
Last edited:
Jun 2017
2,578
Connecticut
#10
Why are schools, at least American private and public schools putting history to the side? Is there a certain reason behind the lack of support of the historical community?
I've been wanting to have this convo for a long time.

I would argue that the quality of our university education system is incredible as pertaining to history instruction, and while the professional and social incentives towards a Foucaltian style of history pose a long term threat to the study of history itself from academia, I think the biggest issue facing actual university instruction right now is funding and lack of emphasis in the humanities as a whole. At my university my history department was very much of a tale of quality over quantity with very few upper level classes but those classes and professors being of an incredible quality. At public universities I am getting the impression this is better than in private one's because the gigantic population of the student body(which is the case at all flagship state schools) means they will have more classes and looking at their course catalog when i went to school made me pretty envious, they had stuff like "history of Argentina", "history of the Byzantine Empire" while at our university the only reason a class like that would happen is if a teacher volunteered to teach it and then went through a lengthy approval process.

Now that's the education system, the K-12 situation is an abomination. The apathy towards the humanities has resulted in them all being thrown together as "the humanities". Growing up history was taught as "social studies" and while I didn't know it then, that's not how it's supposed to be(as history is a study of the past not of society in the present). History was usually taught through the lends of social movements in what appears in hindsight to be an attempt to kill two birds with one stone. Regardless of content what was taught was taught in a very primary source intensive way as a substitute for an already limited amount of instruction. While yes interacting with primary sources is the work of a historian that should not be the focus on children most of whom will not even be history majors never mind historians. If children choose that career when the time comes great, but the product of replacing actual textbook knowledge presented as a story with unconnected pictures and documents is mostly going to just result in historically illiterate students. This "DBQ" format is honestly the most destructive thing I've ever seen done in education it's basically teaching kids history through memes except they didn't know what memes were yet when they came up with the idea. Imagine trying to teach any other subject to students with a series of pictures devoid of context? Ridiculous and while today our education system at the university level is exemplary in terms of instruction quality, I am fearful both this and the economic and social incentives for Foucaltian revisionism are a long term threat to this. And yeah the standardized tests are what drives funding and when I was around, that was about half the test, so they're probably going to spend a lot of class time teaching history in that fashion.


In high school I was the best kid in history, and I like to think I'm a best case scenario for this curriculum, did great on all my standardized tests. The truth was I had to basically learn 90%+ of what I know in college(and 99.99% of all the non American stuff) because I was basically a second grader in terms of historical literacy when I got to college and had been going under the operating assumption that history basically=US history plus WWI and WWII and maybe some Athens talk about the birth of democracy. I also just happened to be personally invested in knowing history and I just happened to be taking history, most people in my situation would not and can not be reasonably expected to take the time to fill the almost entirely empty void you're supposed to be getting as a 13 year long educational process. The product is just a generation of people, maybe more by know who know history as a series of either nationalistic and/or tragic platitudes depending on their state.

Best example of this is when talking about this problem with one of my professors they told me something he did every year for like ten years was ask if anyone in the class knew who Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain were. No one knew and they have the Columbus connection, imagine asking about Charles V, Gustavus Adolphus and Frederick the Great? The average educated American has no idea who the great people of history are.
 

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