Four Ways Parents Can 'Fill in the Blanks' When Schools Fail to Teach History
First I'll start with a few personal anecdotes. About four years ago I was talking to a 13-year-old young lady in our church. She commented that her birthday was coming up. It was January 19! I replied, "Wonderful! You and Robert E. Lee have the same birthday!" She stared at me blankly. It dawned on me that she had no clue who Lee was.
I said, "Have you ever heard the name Robert E. Lee before just now?" She slowly turned her head side to side. "Stonewall Jackson?" Nope. "Ulysses S. Grant? Sherman?" Double nope. I was stunned. When I was in the FOURTH grade, every single kid — boy and girl — knew the names of the major commanders of the Civil War, who the two presidents were, and the names of the major battles and who won. She had never heard of any of this.
I told her, "This is not your fault. You can and should learn more about our history. It's very important and good for you. But you are being cheated in your education."
Just a few days ago, I was speaking to a graduate of a supposedly "good" high school. The student was summa cum laude (I graduated "Laudie how come?!"). Anyway, I asked her about the significance of June 6, 1944. She couldn't tell me.
Clue: We were invading a country to liberate it. "Oh! Oh! That was something with the Germans, right?" Right, I told the summa cum laude graduate. Normandy. France. We were fighting the Nazis. What war was that? "World War ... One?" Graduate of a "good" high school.
I have spoken to high school kids who could not tell me the birthday of our country. Who the last three Presidents were. Who signed the Declaration of Independence. What the Bill of Rights is. "Name three or four amendments to the U.S. Constitution," I would say. Blank stare.
These are good kids I've been talking to over the past few years, and they don't know our own history. Much less world history (ancient, medieval, or modern). What's going on???
Here is a clip from Jay Leno's "Jaywalking" in which he interviews people on the street. These abysmally ignorant answers from American citizens regarding the most simple and basic of questions about our nation's history and government are shocking and embarrassing ... but from what I've personally experienced, not too unusual: