The education system in America
An inside look at the education system in America. Just how well do our schools do at teaching history, and just what are our kids learning about the past, and the world around us?
It would be considered a shame if a country at its height in the world suddenly fell quickly and totally into oblivion, however, America could be this country, in the near future. This nation’s historical egotism mirrors that of the Roman Empire, which fell by its total self-absorbency. America, like the Roman Empire, is a melting pot of cultural history. How sad that, like the Romans, many Americans have refused to study the mistakes of that mixed cultural history. America has become a powerful country since declaring its independence in 1776. Now, it flounders on the verge of cultural collapse, where its very hope of survival rests in not only to its own history, but also to the history of the world around it.
High school textbooks in the United States of America teach a slanted view of world history, where they are found at all. Continued reference is made throughout more recent history, after the establishment of the thirteen colonies, to the area that became the U.S., as if it was the only significant detail in history. Any history before the founding of the U.S. is touched very briefly, in one year of World History, which is not even considered a mandatory course in most U.S. high schools. The rest of the history credits are taken up in American History. The most discouraging part, however, is that many high schools inside of the United States don’t even teach World History. Indeed, many children in the U.S. remain tragically unaware of the common history which led to the founding of the American colonies.
Solving this inequality would be simple, if the effort was made. More schools should require at least one credit in World History for graduation from High School, and history lessons should be rotated in the grammar schools from year to year. For example, if the children study the founding of America in first grade, they should study pre-American Europe, say, the Medieval Era, in second, followed by the US Civil War Era in third, and Mongol Asia in fourth, and so on. The best way to get the schools to accept this is for parents to speak up for better education.
Exactly how serious is the nation's history crisis? The results of a survey conducted of students from several American high schools revealed a disturbing trend in American education to undereducate the nation’s children about the world around them. Of the students surveyed randomly by a test of a possible thirty-three points, the highest score was a seventeen. Many of the students surveyed claimed they could not remember having learned the material. Highly unfortunate, considering that the questionnaire covered some of the most basic of historical facts.
Of the students surveyed, several Freshmen agreed that they had never been taught enough about the world around them. Of the high school Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors who returned their surveys, there appeared very little improvement in scoring. As students who are either currently taking World History or already should have taken some World History, much better results had been expected among the upper classmen. While the highest score was among this group, so too was the lowest score, indicating that the lack of mandatory World History classes is seriously jeopardising the openness and versatility of the nation’s future leaders.
Could it be that the students themselves refuse to acknowledge World History, or the significant role it plays in the United States' future? Consultation of several history teachers and researchers found an agreement that, while students themselves tire of history easily if not exposed to it at an early age or by means of some interest stimulation, the educational system often doesn’t sufficiently fill this void.
This problem, too, could be easily solved with a little work. Part of the problem is that few schools allow their students to take field trips, anymore, too concerned with politics and legalities to adequately teach the students. If schools would open up their field-trip policies again, teachers could interest their students in world history in a variety of ways, from museum tours to trips to living history locations such as Renaissance Faires, recreational villages, and even the theatre, where such plays as 'Les Miserables' and 'Henry V' often inspire the desire to learn.
It has come time to face the facts staring America’s educational system in the eyes. The most prominent of these facts is that America is becoming more and more ignorant about world history. It is no longer treated as an equal, but as a second-rate tool, unimportant to the future. From the crossing of the Atlantic by Columbus in 1492, America begins to drift away from the involvements of the old world and into the founding of a new world. Sadly, many of the involvements of old worlds do not die away as new worlds are forming. Little mention is made to the events occurring in Africa, Asia and even in parts of Europe during the time of Columbus' discovery. This would never happen if schools would require more credits in world history.
So the question is posed for launching. Is this to say that America's educators are to blame? The answer is a clear no. The fault for America's lacking historical knowledge does not lie completely on the shoulders of the educators, not completely in the students, nor even completely in the home. Its basis is in a government so full of its own agendas that it neglects to allow its people the education that might one day be needed to save the country or the freedom on which it was founded. The federal government backs educational committees that review the materials used in education. These committees continuously turn down the subject of World History in favour of American History. If this trend continues, history could be vindicated again, and the United States could find itself suffering for its refusal to properly educate its citizens. Instead, American educational boards should be challenged to incorporate more world history options in the cirriculum.
History makes no excuses or exceptions for the ignorant. There is never a middle ground, no compromise, in the struggle for knowledge. It must either be education today or face possible oblivion tomorrow, as so many ignorant societies have faced in the past. Only the wise survive; that is a valuable lesson presented by history.
Tags: Pedagogics Education