‘We’re raising young people who are, by and large, historically illiterate,” David McCullough tells the Wall Street Journal:
We’ve been teaching history poorly. And Mr. McCullough wants us to amend our ways.The 77-year-old author has been doing his part—he’s written nine books over the last four decades, including his most recent, “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris,” a story of young Americans who studied in a culturally dominant France in the 19th century to perfect their talents. He’s won two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Book Awards and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.
“History is a source of strength,” he says. “It sets higher standards for all of us.” But helping to ensure that the next generation measures up, he says, will be a daunting task.
One problem is personnel. “People who come out of college with a degree in education and not a degree in a subject are severely handicapped in their capacity to teach effectively,” Mr. McCullough argues. “Because they’re often assigned to teach subjects about which they know little or nothing.” The great teachers love what they’re teaching, he says, and “you can’t love something you don’t know anymore than you can love someone you don’t know.”
Another problem is method. “History is often taught in categories—women’s history, African American history, environmental history—so that many of the students have no sense of chronology. They have no idea what followed what.”
What’s more, many textbooks have become “so politically correct as to be comic. Very minor characters that are currently fashionable are given considerable space, whereas people of major consequence farther back”—such as, say, Thomas Edison—”are given very little space or none at all.”
Thus making it easy to toss his greatest invention into the dustbin of what was once called history.
Investment speculator Jeff Carter links to the Journal’s profile of McCullough and adds that by losing our history, we’re “Losing Our Way As A Nation:”
America was founded by a bunch of shopkeepers and entrepreneurs. The Pilgrim is the quintessential small business story. Risking it all for a chance at a better life.
Our educational system has let us down. Instead of trumpeting the skills it takes to take risk and start a business, they focus on social justice. There is no better social justice than providing a paying job for someone else.
In the social justice web, it’s not just a paying job-but a “living wage”. This again turns the American Dream on it’s head. The market determines how much your skill is worth, not an overarching regulation. If your skill level is ditch digger, you get paid as a ditch digger. Not everyone can be CEO. But, American educators act like everyone has the skill set to be a CEO.
Everyone might acquire the skills if they started teaching them correctly.
But not when the First Lady tells Americans:
“Don’t go into corporate America. You know, become teachers. Work for the community. Be social workers. Be a nurse. Those are the careers that we need, and we’re encouraging our young people to do that. But if you make that choice, as we did, to move out of the money-making industry into the helping industry, then your salaries respond.”