Americans are more united on how to teach our history than we think.
Unfortunately, history shows that a small group of highly dedicated people can make an enormous difference in the world and shift the frame of reference for millions, if not billions. This can happen for good, as was the case with George Washington and the Whigs, who were outnumbered by the Loyalists and the Apathetic, or Wilberforce and the Abolitionists, who were pushing against millennia of acceptance of slavery as normal. Or it can happen for bad, as with the Bolsheviks, who consigned billions (if you include China) to a life of misery, starvation and tyranny.
Again and again we see how a poisonous idea can start out as benign, even welcome, and morph into something pathologically wrong if not called out with some force or vigor.
As for the curriculum wars, there is an enormous difference between a clear eyed honest look at the brutality of the ages versus out of context events and characters to suit contemporary partisan needs or assign group blame. When I asked the 1619 creator why not 1513 when Ponce de Leon landed with slaves in Florida or 1518 when the King of Spain chartered the transatlantic slave trade, she stammered and protested that it was "her" project and so she could do what she wanted. OK, but if your point is the original sin of slavery in America, it seems like you start at the origins, even if that includes politically inconvenient facts (such as Hispanic surnames).
The question for me is how extreme are the education departments teaching the teachers - and how much future teachers accept any of the more extreme views and in turn teach them to our children. I have heard by some that it’s extensive.
The 1619 Project has a curriculum offered to schools. It would be interesting to see what that’s composed of.
"[T]hose who make up the more extreme ends of the political spectrum seem to have an outsized influence in a number of our institutions, including media, political parties, and universities."
Extreme conservatives have an outsized influence in universities: really??!
It will take a sustained centrist political and social movement to rid ourselves of the current cultural domination of hard left and right. At the moment I see no such movement, only unorganized voices of reason such as this writer's. But if those surveys are accurate, the soil is certainly fertile for a transformation to sanity.
While it's instructive -- and heartening -- to read that a large majority of Americans agree about how history should be taught, I doubt any of us thinks that this represents the educational establishment. It would be instructive, though I suspect it would go against the grain of this essay, to read how history teachers and those who train and manage them answer these surveys.
If you think about this in terms of the 80/20 rule it would suggest we are in very big trouble if you care about a balanced quality education.
December 7 is an interesting day to discuss the teaching of History. How many people don't know what happened on December 7, 1941, in Hawaii and how that event impacts us even today. Once Americans of every race, religion and ethnic group demonstrated beyond all reasonable doubt that the Germans and Japanese were not the master races, they returned and began addressing the inequalities at home.
One thing America is uniquely good at--and this may be what we are the greatest ever at--is our ability to use the good parts of our heritage as a weapon against the bad parts. Maybe we can find some common ground there.
Mike Pompeo nailed it when he pointed as Randi Weingarten as the most dangerous person in the US.
Should elementary students be learning history at all? Plato held that people shouldn't study philosophy until they were reasonably mature and IMHO the same goes for history. Kids should be learning technical skills period--not anything that involves 'values'. And by technical skills I don't just mean the 3 Rs but most especially foreign languages and playing musical instruments, the two technical skills that children are better at learning than adults. And yet, these are the two things that public schools almost never teach. Why?
No 'values' for kids. Just technical skills including not only reading, writing, and arithmetic, but languages and music, art, crafts, cooking and sewing, accounting, how to do stuff. End of story,