History Taught in Schools

This is an issue I feel very strongly about. It’s abominable. Like the snowman. I went to school for nearly eight years, I have seen the history textbooks. They give me nightmares.

The textbooks have a focus. America. And how wonderfully fabulous all the men here were.  The lessons are all about men. Even if the men were horrible, selfish people, they all made some wonderful, selfless contribution to America as we know it today. Sure, of course.

Let’s take Christopher Columbus, he was a dreadful excuse for a person. Never once does it mention in the textbooks how horrible he was to the native people. He was vile. All the book says is that he was brought back in chains, it doesn’t say why. We also get to hear about all the animals he brought back to Europe, making such nice contributions to naturalism. The funny thing is he died because of an infected parrot bite he got on the ship. Do you ever associate Columbus with pigs? No? That’s because the textbook would never tell you that it was in fact Queen Isabella who make him take a bunch of pigs on the expedition. The pigs carried diseases, too. Read about him, you’ll learn loads.

There is another kind of history on America, it is so called “world history.” “World history” (this doesn’t go for the south) starts with evolution (I give it full credit for that) but then we go on to Egypt. And then… more Egypt. Egypt is a very interesting place, and one could easily fill a whole text book with Egypt. But then It would be called Egyptian history. They are supposed to teach world history.

The book has nothing on ancient Africa, and we might have a chapter of two with the ancient history (badly distorted) of China, (nowhere else in Asia, only China)  South America and  North America. Notice anything missing? Europe, maybe? And Australia? Yep, they are missing from the history books. Some textbooks will have “world history” of Europe, but I’ll bet that maybe one out of twenty-five American textbooks have anything about Australia. When I was a sixth grader, I had no idea that there were any people in  Europe before there were castles. (How I worked that out I can’t say, probably the school history dumbing down my mind.) And I might have had a vague idea that there were actually people in Australia along with the Sydney opera house.

Not only do the textbooks leave out stuff, they are just wrong. Like in the south. In the south they are being taught that the loch ness monster is real. Why? Because if mythical sea monsters are real it if proof that there is God. History textbooks are bad here, but they are definitely worse in the south.

Now, let us talk about the activities. Because they are scandalous. Here is an example from of a history activity Australia that is just as horrible as the activities are here; in year five, a student make gold-colored modeling dough when studying the gold rush. Here is an example of  an activity I did in fifth grade, to learn about cave painting; you put a big piece of paper over two desks. And crawl under it. That was supposed to simulate being in a cave. I think if the activities are that stupid, maybe there should be no activities at all.

I am fourteen. Why is it that I know more history than a textbook developed by historians? That shouldn’t be. Let’s go for international history curriculum reform! Spread this post around, after history reform we’ll move on to standardized testing.


One thought on “History Taught in Schools

  1. My favorite resource for 20th century history is people who were actually living at the time. For example:

    * My grandfather was born in 1900 and taught me about the depression and civil rights activism

    * Video testimonials at the Holocaust Survivors Museum at http://www.ushmm.org/research/collections/oralhistory/

    * History of the Buffalo Soldiers of World War II at http://www.loc.gov/vets/stories/ex-war-buffalosoldiers.html

    * For women’s rights I suggest starting at the Sewall Belmont House Women’s History Museum http://www.sewallbelmont.org/, where they house items such as the flags of Alice Paul and Susan B. Anthony’s desk. It’s the headquarters of the National Women’s Party and the suffrage movement. I held my wedding there in part because I found that very meaningful.

    All of these resources are really interesting when spoken about in the first person.

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