Monday, July 05, 2010

One of the nice things about homeschooling - you have a better chance of getting accurate history

Jeff Dunetz's column My Son's Textbook Denies Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II Their Rightful Place in History is his realization that the textbooks used by public schools can be flat out wrong! (Hat tip: EducationNews.org) Jeff starts with:

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I spent much time during the past few weeks helping my son study for the state-wide World History test he took a few days ago. Working with him through his studies, I learned his class presented a brand new version of history, a version that never occurred. Some can argue different versions/interpretations of events that happened centuries ago, but his text book and curriculum distorted events I saw with my own eyes.
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I have loved history for decades. My interest really started in my junior year in high school. The American History teacher was entertaining and really knew the subject. Only after class started did I realize there was a difference between the regular history class and the AP American History class. I decided to take the AP test, but only received a 2; however, I audited the class in my senior year, along with the European AP history class, and ended up with a 4 and 3 on the two tests, earning college credit for both classes.

During my college years I think took a history class every semester, while earning a BS in Physics. And I've continued to read history since.

Having read tens of thousands of pages of history, I understand how hard it can be to put together a complete and accurate summary of the millions of events that have happened over thousands of years involving millions of people.

But, while people can have different interpretations of the causes and effects of various events, there should be no disagreement on basic facts. For example Columbus discovered America in 1492, not 1592 or some other year. When history books have factual errors, they do a disservice to the students.

One of the main reasons we study history is to learn lessons from the past so we can better live in the present. By understanding the past, the present makes more sense and we can anticipate the future.

Too often politicians and others see history classes in public schools as a chance to push their agendas. (For a scary account of how textbooks are picked, read Richard Feynman on the textbook review process.)

One of the reasons I love homeschooling is my children have a better chance of getting a more complete and through understanding of history.


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7 comments:

Jean said...

Or any history at all!

History was one of the main reasons I chose to homeschool too. WTM hooked me. I was not a history-lover until after college, and now I kind of wish I'd majored in it--I wasn't a terribly good lit major. (I am, however, a great librarian and homeschool mom.)

Anyway we do a lot of history, and I am learning so much, right along with the kids. I'm so glad to be able to pass a love of history on to them, and for all of us to learn more about how we got here.

Sebastian said...

The photo of Gorbachev is a good example of the difference between the US and the USSR. In the US there are entire shows and pages in the newspaper devoted to making fun of politics and politicians. A president can be depicted with big ears, devil ears or even as an asteriks.
In the USSR, Gorbachev's birthmark was airbrushed out of his official photos.

Eric Holcombe said...

Americans should be concerned about the so-called Common Core State Standards, coming soon to a government school near you. Soon the entire country will be "standardized" with great texts such as these, sold by the highest multi-cultural, diversity- preaching bidder.

A great comment left in response to the Breitbart article:

"My son learned a semester's worth about Ronald Wilson Reagan in about 20 minutes within the Capitol Rotunda.

Statues of all sorts of important people abound - including one of Ronaldus Maximus. Trying to get a picture of the boy next to *that particular* statue was difficult - it seems scads of people who, from what I could tell were Eastern European, had a deep fascination with that work of art. Copious smiles and pictures - taking turns to ensure everybody got to pose with Ronnie. I've never been so content to wait patiently - I only wish I could have understood what they were saying to each other.

The Boy™ asked me why they were so excited about that statue above all others - and so the conversation began and continues to this day.

No textbook could have provided that lesson (not just about RWR, but about the value of freedom, in general) or made that sort of impact. Yes - some things are up to us, as parents."

Anonymous said...

History is much more complicated and fascinating than we are taught in school. For example, we are taught that in 1492 Columbus discovered America... so we picture him touching down somewhere in the USA... but he never did! He went to Cuba, Jamaica, Santo Domninigo, etc.

Also he was not the first European to touch down in the Americas. The Vikings discovered Canada long before Columbus... and even established a settlement.

And there is growing evidence of Asian and Indian (from India) explorers who visited the Americas.

Not to mention the native people who were already living here...

justyns35@hotmail.com said...

While I am in the process of deciding what type of schooling is right for my family.....I have stated for a few years now that I will homeschool my kids on history. I work at a middle school in a more urban area....they teach history horribly....its void of any rich content and these kids come thinking that feminist were awesome, blacks have been held down by the white man, and workers never had any rights. Focusing only on stains in our history and never the glories.

Crimson Wife said...

It's really, really hard to find an interesting and well-written American History "spine" that is reasonably balanced ideologically and neither hostile towards religion nor "Providential" in tone. Something that is optimistic in its treatment of America but doesn't gloss over the times in our past where we have fallen short of our ideals.

I think there would be a big market for a program like this- so why isn't one available?

Jamie ~ See Jamie blog said...

History always bored me in school, but I have found it so interesting once I started homeschooling! Why do most schools make it so painfully dry? My kids may actually grow up enjoying history!