Why is history class screwed over?

Feb 2011
Perambulating in St James' Park
I am an old hag, but I do not necessarily think everything was better in my childhood, except one thing, history teaching.

I went to school at the end of the sixties and the beginning of the seventies.

We started with the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age in Denmark, and then we continued with the lands in the Fertile Crescent, the Greeks, and the Romans.

Back to Denmark in historical times combined with European history. When we came to Europeans colonization, we got a general overview of the countries they conquered.

A thorough review of US history and a more general overview of South America.

Europe again, with industrialization, the years before, between and after WWI and WWII.

My generation was the last in Denmark who got a detailed history teaching.

It started already in one of the last years I went to school where geography, biology and history were put in the same pot.

Fortunately, my school decided to continue with separate school subjects the following year.

It may be a coincidence but it started with Denmark's entry into the EC 1973 and a Social-Democratic Minister of Education whose attitude was that what not everyone could learn, no one should learn.

Why ? Because people who do not know their history do not understand the reasons for the things that happen now.

They are easy to manipulate and you can make them believe whatever you tell them.

My conspiracy theory :winktongue: is that the EU's plan for a united Europe depends on the Europeans forget their different national histories and just become a big mush of labour, which can be easily moved from country to country.

I'm convinced of your last quote, which rather explains why my gf, who is in her 20s and was a grammar school girl, had never heard of Dunkirk. It also explains the general age gap of the leave and remain vote in the UK. The younger generation have been brainwashed by New Labour's education system which demonizes British History and ignores the glorious parts. It's all part of destroying any sense of nationalism or national identity.
Feb 2011
Perambulating in St James' Park
The primary purpose for learning history is not to "learn from the mistakes of the past."

Such mistakes were few and far between compared to the major mistakes of modern society. The primary purpose for studying history is to gain an appreciation of the great deeds of our ancestors so that we may be learned enough to emulate them in their actions. Take George Washington for example. The man was a hero who led a war of liberation which led to the formation of the American Republic. Not only that, but he was arguably the greatest president in American history and one of the greatest world leaders of any era.

To learn from the great achievements of our ancestors so that they may be emulated and perhaps even surpassed is where the study of history has its greatest potential. Not demeaning our ancestors by pointing at mistakes which were miniscule by comparison to the mistakes made by this generation.
The reason for learning history is up to the person reading it and considering what they want to gain from it.

Consider how things may have turned out had the Founding Fathers not known anything about history. How do you think they would have written the Constitution with no knowledge of Greece or Rome?

Consider the fact that the same constitution, along with the British System, is copied across the globe, even if used as a veneer by the most corrupt banana republics.

IMHO it's a citizen's duty to learn history so that they can recognise the threats to freedom and Democracy, at least in the world of the Anglosphere.

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
I think it’s the focus on STEM (Science, Tech, Engineer, Math), which neglects the Humanties (History, Geography, Civics, Arts, Writing) as a whole. The thing is, you need all of those subjects because they rely on each other. To know why Hitler shouldn’t have invaded Russia during the winter, you need to know where to locate that on a map. And then, you may have to write a paper based on that research. And maybe you have to draw the map in your paper. This is probably another attempt by the government to make us not know our history so we can be easily manipulated.
The STEM are regarded by some as being more practical, more useful in many jobs. Can you be a good engineer without knowing some science and math? No. Could you be one without knowing any history or geography? Yes, probably.

But the Humanities are critical to being a good citizen or leader. Could be a good president and make the right diecissions if you don't have a clue on where Syria is or any of its history? No. And since in a democracy, we share the responsibility of electing leaders, we need to have some knowledge of those subjects as well. And Art is helpful to live as a better human being. You appreciate a painting more or music more when you know some art. It would be a drearer, inhuman world without Art, a 1984 type world.

Because Humanities are immediately seen as necessary for getting a job, they are neglected.
Nov 2013
Well in this particular case the good workman isn't the one who chooses his tools. That's part of the edge university's have, the professors don't have to choose their tools(mostly, classes can be vetoed or cut) while for general ed teachers whether a teacher is good or not is almost meaningless if they are forced to use the bad tools(curriculum).

Want to make sure it's clear I'm not universally praising America's education system, I mentioned above many issues I do have with US higher ed history education and issues I believe will rear their ugly heads in the future.

A-That issue is independent to the quality of the coursework and the education one receives. I agree it is a huge problem the cost of college has forced college to become a place where people get a piece of paper to get jobs rather than get educated so they are productive members of society and not social liabilities. STEM is at the center of that evil motive as STEM advocates main appeal to the masses isn't intellectual compatibility nor curiosity, it simply meets the expectation that your degree=a high paying job while the humanities degrees don't. It's sad that we have this expectation yet we're stuck between a rock and a hard place because of the debt students must incur. Again not relevant to the quality of the limited history academy, at least in terms of instruction(for now).

I do not get the indoctrination part especially on a mass scale. That's part of what giving teachers autonomy does though allows them to personally push their viewpoints. However it's pushing their viewpoints on topics they have expertise on and it's not pushing the viewpoints or priorities of central educational planners like in gen ed. Also there's all sorts of teachers pushing all sorts of viewpoints.

B-I am praising the quality not the way the university academy treats history. Praising the instruction and the education someone will receive with a history degree.
I personally don't consider profs to be good instructors; as they either work at Community Colleges (a flawed system often staffed by professors who couldn't cut it in the real Universities. The problem American is they expect younger generation to insensibly drone for crappy jobs and schools, without considering that this is nonsense.

Public school is a babysitter; college is basically a research, sports, credential, library, and indoctrination camp. That you may have learned something from there is merely that (or from the library......)

Teachers are not public intellectuals; they fall apart once you realise that if you want to study serious issues, even story-tellers like Gore Vidal or Christopher Hitchens were better source than some teacher whining about how teachers are underpaid or some 2nd rate feminist.

As for your perhaps valid complains about anti-intellectualism in the United States; that is fine but not really an argument for accountability if you are going to shift the blame on the public. This is why Americans have always seemed to self-righteous to me to address problems at their core; the American worldview has always seemed to be "They should be as mature as I am".
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Feb 2016
It may be a coincidence but it started with Denmark's entry into the EC 1973 and a Social-Democratic Minister of Education whose attitude was that what not everyone could learn, no one should learn.

Why ? Because people who do not know their history do not understand the reasons for the things that happen now.

They are easy to manipulate and you can make them believe whatever you tell them.

My conspiracy theory :winktongue: is that the EU's plan for a united Europe depends on the Europeans forget their different national histories and just become a big mush of labour, which can be easily moved from country to country.
I too noticed this with the younger people. They didn't understand my warnings when I used history as an example. Many of them got offended. And they thought I was an idiot. Most people will not read about the things that they don't learn in school. Unfortunately, history is being neglected or in some cases manipulated in the schools. Amongst the younger people, only the ones (and I met very few of them) who read history books from outside the schools understood what I was talking about. Some of the people who originally disagreed with me realized what I was talking about after seeing the results. For the others, it'll take a longer time and more sequence of events for them to understand.
Mar 2018
I know physics teachers and language teachers and maths teachers. They all think their particular subject is getting screwed over too. This is not a modern thing either: I know 25 year old teachers who believe this, and retired 70 year old teachers. It's just a standard cognitive bias: everyone always thinks that the subject they love should get more attention. Also, you are always more aware of what you know and your kids don't know, than what your kids know that you don't; it's pretty much impossible to be deeply aware and think about specific aspects of your ignorance. This means that you end up being very aware of things that have been cut from the syllabus, but barely aware of things that have been added.

These things hold for pretty much all subject, and for all time. Was it Socrates who was complaining that kids these days weren't being taught to memorise stuff well enough? Generally, I would say that nothing is getting really screwed over, or that there is much to worry about at all.
Nov 2018
I must admit that even though I'm about to get into the surly age, I think that the present is better than my childhood in the sixties.

I remember it as a time with a tiled stove, unheated bedrooms, cold water in the taps, privy and only one channel on the television and in addition a narrow and intolerant mindset especially among our school teachers.

But to show the variations in the history lessons, I have found some statistics for the lessons in history teaching in the Danish primary school, around 1970 the average was at 1,87 hours in a week, in 1993 when my daughter

went to school 1,12 hours and in 2009 1,5 hours .

This average covers ten years of schooling, where history is taught from 3rd grade. But the problem is not only fewer lessons, even though more teaching hours have been granted the last ten years.

The problem is that there has not been allocated enough money for the education of history teachers in primary school, which means that the teachers who teach the subject have not actually been educated in it.

In addition, most teachers are women who have a penchant for interdisciplinary and roundabout education, regarding professionalism they could not care less.

And yes I think history is the most important subject in school, because if it is a good teacher who teaches, it helps to expand one's worldview, it provides a cultural capital, where people not only are machines that must earn

profit. But human beings who understand the world around them and as citizens in a democratic society can make decisions on an informed basis.


Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
Got the bug from exposure to a history teacher who could make one hour exciting and told of long past personages and events with the flair of a narrator
there is no substitute for passionate good teachers !

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