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AMERICAN HISTORY 101

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 3, 2013

BRYCE ON HISTORY

– “We are raising a generation that is historically illiterate”

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

While visiting with some high school teacher friends, I asked how American History was being taught today. I always had a fondness for history, even if the teacher was boring. I particularly enjoyed learning about the American Civil War, and the events leading up to it. I saw it as an epoch event which defined the American character. The aftermath of the Civil War was also interesting including carpetbagging and the corruption of the Grant administration. Most of what I learned came from History and Social Studies classes I took from elementary school to high school. I didn’t take any formal history classes in college, but learned a lot through the other courses I took. To accent the meaning of a subject, the professors often found it necessary to describe its historical roots.

I was dismayed to learn American History was being taught superficially. Remarkably, it was taught starting from World War II and progressing to today. It was also my understanding the high school history teacher made extensive use of DVD video clips as opposed to lectures which I found rather odd. Videos provide excellent stimuli, but their tightly worded scripts do not always provide the rationalization for an event.

The school’s interpretation of American history spans a paltry 73 years. I guess anything happening before 1940 was considered inconsequential, such as:

– The Great Depression and Dust Bowl
– Prohibition, bootlegging, and the rise of organized crime; e.g., Al Capone
– Women’s suffrage and the 19th Amendment
– The court martial of Gen. Billy Mitchell
– The Roaring Twenties, featuring flappers, “The Charleston”, and Jazz
– Isolationism, the RMS Lusitania, Eddie Rickenbacker, Sgt. York, Gen. Pershing, and the League of Nations
– Building of the Panama Canal
– John L. Sullivan, Jack Johnson, and Gentleman Jim Corbett
– The “Black Sox” scandal
– The Spanish-American War, including the Rough Riders and “Remember the Maine”
– The San Francisco earthquake and Johnstown flood
– The contributions of Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Guglielmo Marconi, Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, et al.
– The World’s Fairs of Philadelphia, Chicago, Buffalo, and New York City (twice)
– The rise of Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst.
– The works of Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, etc.
– The Passenger Pigeon and near extinction of the American Bison
– The Wounded Knee Massacre
– Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Gen. Custer, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn
– Manifest Destiny and “Seward’s Folly”
– Sutter’s Mill and the Gold Rush
– The impeachment of Andrew Johnson
– Carpetbaggers
– Abner Doubleday and the Cincinnati Red Stockings
– The Civil War
– John Brown raid on Harpers Ferry
– The Dred Scott Decision
– The Mexican–American War
– Tammany Hall and “Boss” Tweed
– The assassinations of Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, and William McKinley
– The Lincoln-Douglas debates
– The Missouri Compromise and the Kansas-Nebraska Act
– Sugar-Rum-Slave triad
– “Old Hickory” and his dismantling of the Second Bank of the United States, and paying off the National Debt
– The War of 1812 and the Battles of Tippecanoe and New Orleans
– The burning of the White House and Washington
– Gerrymandering
– Lewis and Clark Expedition and the Louisiana Purchase
– Jefferson’s Democrat-Republicans vs. Hamilton’s Federalists.
– The founding of the District of Columbia and Pierre Charles L’Enfant
– The Whiskey Rebellion
– The significance of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights
– The Articles of Confederation
– Nathan Hale and Benedict Arnold
– The Declaration of Independence
– The Revolutionary War, from Bunker Hill to Yorktown
– Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense”
– The effect of the British monarchy and taxation
– The French and Indian Wars
– American whaling and fishing industries
– Williamsburg, St. Augustine
– The Plymouth Colony and Compact

I guess these subjects are meaningless and carry no lessons of merit. Without such background, I seriously doubt students have an understanding of how our country was formed, struggled through hardships, and evolved. Without such knowledge, I do not believe students have a true appreciation for what our country is, our identity, why it must be defended, and will likely repeat the same mistakes. I realize math, science, and languages are important, but American history is vital for good government and citizenship.

Beyond this, I was stunned to learn “World History” was taught only beginning from World War I which was mind-boggling to me. What about Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, China and Japan, The Inquisition, The Wars of the Roses, The Magna Carta, Marco Polo, Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, Amerigo Vespucci, Christopher Columbus, Capt. James Cook, Galileo, Sir Isaac Newton, Napoleon Bonapart, Charles Darwin, Joan of Arc, Socrates, Confucius, etc.?

I guess this also meant nothing and I wasted my time learning about it.

“We are raising a generation that is historically illiterate and have a very sketchy, thin knowledge of the system on which our entire civilization is based on. It is regrettable and dangerous.”
– Historian David McCullough

And, No, Samuel Adams was not our second president.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES – How would our founding fathers in today’s electoral circus?

LAST TIME:  THE MILLENNIALS – Can they really save America?

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13 Responses to “AMERICAN HISTORY 101”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    A D.F. of New York City wrote…

    “We could be witnessing a time in our history where the Government is ceasing to function. It seems to be taking on more and more, costs more and more yet is able to do less and less. The Education system may just be the tip of the iceberg as it has ceased to function quite sometime ago.”

    Like

  2. Tim Bryce said

    An M.M. of Cincinnati, Ohio wrote…

    “Same with geography as with history – given blank maps of the U.S. and the world, I bet the average American couldn’t correctly fill in more than a dozen states and countries. So, in the grand scheme of things, not only do they not know where they’ve been – they hardly know where they are.”

    Like

  3. Tim Bryce said

    An M.T. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania wrote…

    “Tim, this is what happens when the liberals are teaching our children”

    Like

  4. Tim Bryce said

    A K.S. of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma wrote…

    “Tim, many of youth cannot even remember more than a few years back! Sad, eh?”

    Like

  5. sirchristiantheheck@reagan.com said

    We’re now turning out imbeciles,illiterates and totally unaware and uncaring technophobes. I hope I’m not around to see and live the total collapse of a once proud and GREAT nation that EVERYONE respected and admired. As you stated, not so any longer.

    Like

  6. Tim Bryce said

    A B.F. of Lubbock, Texas wrote…

    “We are raising a generation who is not being taught anything but revisionist history. The truth of OUR Patriotic Founders is disguised and even disputed in many cases.

    This omission of the true history of this great country is nothing less than an attempt to stifle any feeling of Patriotism or any meaning to the sacrifice that has been made to win freedom from oppressors,

    AND

    To keep our freedoms and OUR Republic.

    I would go so far as to say that it is the unpatriotic who are presently running this country and do not desire this country to be a Republic. We are running toward being a Socialist state.

    This just has to stop.

    It will be up to us to form home schooling groups or coops if there are parents who don’t have the time or don’t feel qualified to teach children the valuable lessons of history, or we will lose our culture and our country.”

    Like

  7. Tim Bryce said

    A B.H. of Boulder, Colorado wrote…

    “Like English curricula nowadays, where Shakespeare is just another “dead white guy” not worthy of time in high school or undergraduate work, these things are probably covered in some detail in graduate school, perhaps even in the PhD programs. Of course, that means you have to decide to be a history MAJOR and stick with it, and then decide to TEACH history in college after that. Not too many well-paying jobs out there for BA degrees in history, are there?”

    Like

  8. Tim Bryce said

    An N.K. of Boise, Idaho wrote…

    “They have been taught, are being taught, to accept rather than oppose. Even the parents of today’s school age children were subjected to the ‘new math’ and implementation of the liberal education agenda. They don’t know any better either, so how can they help their kids?

    When I worked in Pennsylvania, I took my daughter there many times. That State, and the City of Philadelphia is chocked full of history. She ate it up. It was a good thing because she refused to accept what they were trying to teach her in school.

    I don’t know that we can refute the education, but we can certainly lead by example. Brainwashing goes two ways and that which has been done, can be undone.”

    Like

  9. Tim Bryce said

    An N.K. of Illinois wrote…

    “Amen, Tim. I don’t think it’s a new thing, though, although it’s getting worse. A few years ago, on a whim, I did a little history quiz around my office. Without exceptions, the people I talked to were college graduates, many with masters degrees. I asked questions like:

    1) What decade was WWII in?
    2) What decade was the Civil War in?
    3) Who were the combatants in the War of 1812?
    4) Name the three branches of government.
    5) What document governed the Unites States between the time of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution?

    I think there were ten questions in all. It was astonishing how many supposedly educated people couldn’t answer some of these basic questions about our history. And people were often spectacularly wrong. I’d like to repeat my experiment and record some of the answers, but I work with almost all foreign nationals now, so it wouldn’t be a fair measure.

    My wife often scoffs at the idiocy exhibited on Jay Leno’s “Jaywalking” interviews and assumes they just televised the stupid ones. She’s probably right, they probably interviewed 20 people and only aired the 18 idiots.”

    Like

  10. Tim Bryce said

    With this in mind, see my “Bryce History Quiz” at:

    https://timbryce.com/2011/02/03/bryce-american-history-quiz-part-1-of-2/

    Then look at the answers at:

    https://timbryce.com/2011/02/10/bryce-american-history-quiz-part-2-of-2/

    This was written in 2011.

    Like

  11. Alton Walston said

    In the Scottish Rite. there used to be many degrees conferred, the lectures really had a message to tell. Almost every aspect of  life was covered in the 32 degrees. or at least the ones conferred. Today, one day classes are the norm and who among us has the ability to understand all that is covered even in the few lectures that are given. The reason given for the change is that no one wants to spend the time learning all that work just to deliver it twice a year. So everything was shortened to accommodate those whom have more important things to do on Saturdays.      Sadly our school systems have been reduced to teaching only the bare  essentials that even the most illiterate can learn.  No longer do we teach the necessities of life. We are taught a curriculum that is set by a bunch of morons who also have better things to do with their time to design educational programs.    How in the hell can we know where we are going if we don’t know where we have been. Is the Human race destined to repeat all the mistakes over and over again because a few lazy folks don’t want to really take the time to educate the next generation.  Sadly our masonic lodges are falling in the same veins. Regards ole Blake

    ________________________________

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  12. […] Twitter Facebook ← AMERICAN HISTORY 101 […]

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  13. Tim Bryce said

    A D.D. of Dunedin, Florida wrote…

    “So true! I couldn’t agree more. Abandoning any real efforts to teach history to the next generations is a great disservice to them.”

    Like

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