From National Review Online, “Progressives Gnaw at the Curriculum”, Mona Charen writes:

“Only about 18 percent of American colleges require a survey course on U.S. history or government. Then again, when they do teach U.S. history, they tend to do so in a highly tendentious fashion. As my colleague Jay Nordlinger has observed, “It’s all slavery, racism, and the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II.”

This is deadly serious business. Civilizations are not self-sustaining enterprises. People must believe that their society and culture are worth preserving. If we don’t teach our children the fundamentals of American history and government, they will not have the knowledge or perspective necessary to maintain it.”

Her article offers dismal statistics on how young Americans fare at understanding US history, with the educational system mired in grievance politics.  This brought to mind an old LB post, “A few thoughts about the Lewis and Clark expedition”, where I offered my views on teaching history:

“In recent decades so much hot air has been expended over how to teach history and just about every other subject.  Truly discouraging battles continue to be waged over textbooks, where politically charged combatants wrestle over every single entry.  The Texas textbook fights have garnered national media attention.   With so much information available, it seems to me that instead of fighting over whether to include this or that historical figure and how many lines get devoted to each, the time might be better spent teaching kids how to explore history – it should be a journey, or an expedition into uncharted territory not a political mud-wrestling match.   Just look at a few of the entries in the Lewis and Clark journals, where they charted maps and terrain features, they drew pictures of the flora and fauna, talked to the natives, they wrote as many detailed entries as their harsh conditions allowed.  They did this so that they could come back and share it with others.  This is what education should be – sharing knowledge.”

On a tangential topic, teaching kids to be survivors, let me once again recommend Gladius’ essay, “Gimme a Knife” and a wonderful exploration of the Lewis and Clark journals from an American Thinker article by David L. Lenard, “Looking Back at Lewis and Clark”.  Lenard takes you on a rich trip through the journals, offering up fascinating tidbits that contrast survival techniques like caching supplies (burying them) for later use, which will make modern-day, hide and seek,  geocaching using GPS for entertainment seem rather silly.  Lenard contrasts the abilities of the Lewis and Clark explorers to our modern-day culture:

“What a difference from today, where the handwringing of nervous housewives (“God forbid little Jimmy should encounter peanut traces in his food”) dominates our daily existence, and the liberal imperative of nanny-state overregulation promises the illusion of lives lived in perfect safety and perfect comfort, without risk or suffering or even unpleasantness.  Self-sufficiency is anathema to this mentality, but the Lewis and Clark expedition was self-sufficient to an almost unbelievable degree: they not only hunted their own food, but, when necessary, built their own boats; sewed their own clothes; and when it was too cold to travel, built their own forts — not once, but twice.

In our modern republic, where large segments of our population compete to be declared helpless victims so they can receive government handouts, one cannot help but think that little Jimmy might benefit from being sent out with Drouilliard: “Here’s a musket, son — now go kill that deer, and don’t miss, because if you do, there’s a strong possibility you might starve.””

I’ll leave it there for you to think about the educational riches we have available, free and easily accessible, in America, yet so many Americans lack the will to improve themselves:

“Survival is more a mind-set than a setting. Attitude is everything.” – Gladius, “Gimme a Knife”

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Filed under American History, Culture Wars, Education, Food for Thought, General Interest, Politics

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