Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why you don't really understand history until you take it in college...or read on your own

How Christian Were the Founders? examines the power Conservatives in state school boards--particularly that of Texas--have in shaping what we are taught as we go through primary and secondary education, not just the subject but even exerting pressure on textbook companies in the language of their texts. This political agenda is wrong (and I would argue the same if it were any other political agenda--education should be based on reality, not belief, whether liberal or conservative). History is something discovered (and should be written) based on facts. Both the social sciences and science are only as good as the methodology behind them and facts they incorporate. But with forays in the battle between separation of church and state and proponents of teaching Creationism as science, etc., pre-higher education pretty much tanks in terms of what students actually learn as the truth--whether it be science, history, etc.

I know it sounds elitist to tell someone with just a high school degree that they're really not educated, but it's also true. Even when I was a kid, our history classes never really made it past World War II, and we were past Vietnam. There's a limit to what you can teach 180 days a year to still-developing minds, I guess, and obviously you need to lay a foundation upon which the harder questions can be discussed later. But there's a difference between failing to cover everything and re-writing the actual subject. With this sort of political manoeuvering, you actually need to break down comfortable 'truths' and re-teach a student in so many ways by the time they're in college. Because primary and secondary schooling are as much indoctrination into our culture as much as anything else, and the power behind what goes into your children's minds isn't necessarily those who are educated or those who are fair and impartial. This is one reason I never went into teaching children--I knew the establishment would disillusion me quickly, because education is an incredibly poloarising political issue. It's also why I would have home schooled if at all possible (or at the least, supplemented) if I'd ever had children--not because I am a whacko who wants to put my beliefs into everything they learn, but because I want to explose them to real classics, to discuss issues intelligently, and most important, to build the most valuable skill our educational system can provide (but often does not)...critical thinking.

There are fine educators who aspire to do all these things in the public school system. But they are often shackled by politics. And parents, many of whom have only had a smattering of learning themselves, don't fight for their children's right to a real education. In fact, I see lots of ads for Christian schools that teach science and technology from a Biblical perspective (yeah, I know, it makes my brain hurt, too), and I'm sure there are parents who think this is somehow good, where I would consider it crippling a child terribly.

So parents need to educate themselves on what their system is doing for their child. They need to vote in people who aren't going to micromanage textbook language or tinker with lesson plans. And they need to demand a real education for their children. Our children not only deserve it, they require it. To do anything less is a failure to them and to our society.

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