Back to school time awakens old classroom controversies

Education advocate makes the case for the importance of history lessons

WASHINGTON, DC, Sep 1 – It’s back to school for America’s children and their teachers who can look forward to a new wave of controversies as parents and politicians once again vie for the right to set classroom priorities, according to education advocate David Bruce Smith.

“No doubt the issues of the Common Core curriculum and STEM education [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] will be the focus of much debate. My concern is that all of the political positioning—and arguing—will obscure the greater goal: providing students with a well-rounded education and preparing them for their ultimate responsibilities as citizens,” he said. “We need to give our children everything they will need to live productive, fulfilling lives and that means teaching them the new ways of life that come with the 21st Century. It also means providing them with a relevant perspective that will satisfy their needs and—the needs of the country.”

Smith said numerous surveys show that “perspective” is what has gone missing in the classroom as teachers have increasingly been forced to deemphasize history lessons in favor of more “practical” subjects.

“Schools have an obligation to offer their students an accurate, verifiable account of our country’s past. To do otherwise is a disservice to them and to the future of the nation. It is true that history repeats itself and that if we don’t learn the lessons of history we are bound to the mistakes of the past. Right now our children are not learning how America achieved its successes; nor are they learning the slips that were made along the way.”

Smith, who is an author and publisher, is also the co-founder of the Grateful American Book Prize. The Prize is a dedicated effort to help with the task ensuring that the teaching of history does not, itself, become history, he said. It is intended to encourage authors and publishers to produce more historically accurate books of fiction and nonfiction that can restore enthusiasm about classroom history lessons.

The 2015 The National Assessment of Educational Progress [NAEP] assessment, which has earned the nickname, the Nation’s Report Card, recently tested approximately 29,000 eighth graders. The results: only 18 percent of the children were proficient in history.

“Computers and the Internet are exciting and give our children a productive way to use their nimble fingers. But enlightening them about the future potential of technology should not come at the cost of teaching them the lessons of history. History class can be boring but it doesn’t have to be. Give kids a good, factually engrossing read about the events and personalities that got the country this far and they get it—and they get an informed look into the future.”

Published on September 01, 2015

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