150 Years Without History Are Enough!

It’s not a “conservative” thing, really.  Or a “progressive,” “liberal,” or “traditionalist” thing.  But I’ve mounted up on my high horse in the pages of History News Network to complain about the sad state of American history education.

Specifically, I’m stumped and saddened by the continuing prevalence of neo-Confederate histories in America’s public schools.  Or, at least, by the continuing desire of some activists and authors to keep neo-Confederate histories alive.

In the HNN essay, I argue that there are clear parallels between this sort of history education and the long campaign against the teaching of evolution in public-school science classes.   Just as in that case, I think there are plenty of conservative intellectuals who will agree with me that neo-Confederate myths shouldn’t be taught as real history, just as there are lots of conservative evangelicals who dispute the young-earth style of creationism peddled by Ken Ham.  Just as I wouldn’t want history teachers to use Zinn’s woefully slanted leftist People’s History of America in their classrooms, I bet there are plenty of conservatives who don’t want American kids to learn that the Civil Rights Movement was no big deal, or that lots of slaves fought FOR the Confederacy in the Civil War.

Take a look and offer your comments over there.  Bonus points if you can make sense of my oh-so-clever title BEFORE reading the essay on HNN!


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  1. In my local high school in rural NC, the Civil War in history classes is referred to as “the War of Northern Aggression.” I can’t vouch for this personally, since I haven’t sat in on the class. But this is the received reputation and rumor.

    • Right. Has anyone actually seen or experienced this? Anecdotally, it seems very common. We had one teacher-to-be in our masters program who had gone to college in South Carolina. She had been taught that the war was a victory for the white South, and that slaves by and large had preferred slavery to freedom. But I’ve never actually been in this sort of classroom myself.

  2. I’m late to the party b/c I only got around to reading the article today. I’m not at all surprised. Because TX textbooks end up setting the standard nationwide, activists for all kinds of causes get involved in what is or is not in textbooks. Years ago, when the Moral Majority was still a force to be reckoned with, the late Rev Jerry Falwell suggested that people should run for their local BOEs and commissions such as the one in TX that decides textbook content. At one point evangelicals got seats in TX, and it was a real mess. They tried to inject a conservative religious slant in the textbooks. And, John Stossel over at Fox News Channel, did a segment on how important TX is in the fight over what is taught in schools. It seems TX continues to be a battle field.

  3. Simpson borrowed (or “pilfered”) his title from Muller…

  1. I Love You but You Didn’t Do the Reading | I Love You but You're Going to Hell

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