A New York Times article by Sam Dillon in 2011 details how history scores among high school students had remained stagnant since 2001.
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 12 percent of high school seniors sored proficiently on the test.
Pretty good score if your goal is to get our young people to forget World and US History and then rewrite it. So why don’t most of our young citizens know if Washington crossed the Delaware in a boat, car, or a jet ski? All kidding aside, it would appear out nation’s history is not being taken seriously.
With NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND from 2002 emphasizing reading and math, history appears to be no longer of importance in the great pivot of STEM concentration in education. But the humanities, including history, art, literature, music, social studies, are what make us human and give us kind of generational passing of the torch of civilization.
So is the situation really this bad?
From my experience, it depends.
A different article by US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT on the same subject talks about a yearly program called NATIONAL HISTORY DAY.
Now as to why I’m writing this blog.
As a father, author, retired service member and health care professional, I see the humanities as critical to student and personal development. I test my daughter on her AP History test preparation. I know that many students in her school are not remotely as interested in history as she and the classmates that take on Advanced Placement.
I’ve been a science fair judge in the past and a NATIONAL HISTORY DAY judge for the past two years. It is such a pleasure to see the projects these middle school students present to the judges. They pick a topic and create in-depth presentations with poster boards, audio-visuals, and 3D models. Imagine designing a working model of an Archimedes Screw in 8th grade?
Other projects I saw demonstrate that there are students eager to learn, interpret and explain history.
So my faith is restored for at least that percentage of students who care, and their teachers.
How do we get whoever else is in charge of education to enlighten the majority who are not motivated.
One wonders why those making the decisions don’t seem to see our national heritage or world history as important. It has, after all, been said – rather convincingly – that history repeats itself. With that adage in mind, how can we ignore – and foster ignorance in our young of – the lessons of history?
Ever see the statue of Venus De Milo- the Greek goddess of love, nee Aphrodite, renamed Venus by the Romans? The statue is missing both arms, thought cracked off and lost in a storm of the island of Melos. Those hands had held a magic vase with the Latin words “In Perpetuum” inscribed on the surface. The vase was filled with an inexhaustible supply of wisdom, creativity, understanding, and curiosity. Scrolls listed subjects within the vase: government, philosophy, literature, and art, among others. They invited future ages to dip inside, be enlightened and gather the roots of a superior existence.
See, maybe there is something to exploring history.
By the way, “In Perpetuum” is a word we now call the future. That’s what is at stake.
Allan Patch is the author of the contemporary/historical fiction thriller Apollo Series. Passage at Delphi and Delphi’s Chosen use contemporary characters, historical encounters, and page-turning adventure to pose the question: what must we learn from our past to ensure our future.