Which version of history should we be teaching?

3 Nov

The debate about U.S. History curriculum in public schools has been a hot debate in recent news, particularly the proposed changes to curriculum in Jefferson County, Colorado. According to the proposal “Materials should promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights. Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law. Instructional materials should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage.” An article from the Huffington Post calls it an attempt to “erase significant chunks of our nations’ history.” What is the point of teaching history if you are going to exclude important pieces of America’s past? As I’m sure most historians, like myself, would agree it is absurd to teach an incomplete history to students, especially about their own country. Historians are not the only people in outrage. There have been teacher sit outs and even students have walked out of classes to protest. If the students are demanding an honest version of American history why shouldn’t we give it to them? If they are not able to learn about critical (and sometimes controversial) subjects in American history how can we expect them to learn to think critically about history. They will not only end up leaving high school ill prepared for what college history classes have to teach but they are being cheated out of a real education of America’s past.

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If you are interested in further reading, here are a few articles on the controversy in Jefferson County.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-m-sweeney/the-attempts-by-the-schoo_b_6024810.html
http://kdvr.com/2014/09/24/proposed-changes-to-u-s-history-curriculum-in-jeffco-schools-lampooned-on-twitter/
http://www.npr.org/2014/10/03/353327302/school-board-wants-civil-disorder-deemphasized-students-walk-out

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