kitchen table math, the sequel: The hundred years' war

Friday, June 20, 2014

The hundred years' war

Ed's reaction to Paul Horton's column on the new CC history standards: "It's the counterrevolution, courtesy of Bill Gates."

This is something I don't think we've ever talked about on ktm: constructivists don't like history.

At all.

In fact, history was I think the first subject to fall to the progressives' school reforms. History was replaced by social studies nearly 100 years ago, in the 1920s and 30s.

Here's Diane Ravitch:
In the latter decades of the 20th century, many social studies professionals disparaged history with open disdain, suggesting that the study of the past was a useless exercise in obsolescence that attracted antiquarians and hopeless conservatives. (In the late 1980s, a president of the National Council for the Social Studies referred derisively to history as “pastology.”)

A Brief History of Social Studies by Diane Ravitch
In the 1990s Ravitch, Gary Nash, Christopher Lasch and others (including Ed) staged a successful counterrevolution against the social studies revolution, and history standards written by historians were adopted in a number of states.

Today Bill Gates is funding social studies (historical thinking for the 21st century!), so we have the counterrevolution to the counterrevolution, with the resulting theme-based, DBQ-mongering, 13-year students-will-examine fest you might expect. e.g.:
Students will examine the atrocities committed under Augusto Pinochet, Deng Xiaoping, and Slobodan Milosevic in light of the principles and articles within the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
That shouldn't take too long.

As far as I can see, there's not a single learning objective in the entire 13-year framework.

Just years and years of students examining this, that, and the other.

Punctuated by students comparing and contrasting this, that, and the other.

Terrence Moore is very funny on the subject of the Common Core's preoccupation with comparison & contrast. Will have to find a passage to post.


Froggiemama said...

I have a different question - why Deng Xiaoping and not Mao Tsetung? Mao is the one most comparable to those other two. I guess today's standards writers only know Tiananmen Square and not what came before. Goes to show - not enough actual history knowledge, and definitely not enough Chinese history knowledge!!!

ChemProf said...

In the education department at my school, talking about atrocities under Mao Tsetung would be very controversial. Deng Xiaoping not so much.

And all of the leaders are pretty modern -- can't have too much history.

Anonymous said...

Pinochet gets "credit" for a few thousand dead, plus lots more arrests and totures.
Milosevic is comparable (depending on how you want to apportion blame for the war in Yugoslavia), with many 100s of thousands made refugees.
Deng gets blame for 1989.

Mao brought us "The Great Leap Forward" as well as "The Cultural Revolution" ... tens of millions dead in each. In terms of total body count, Mao may beat out even Stalin.

-Mark Roulo

froggiemama said...

Deng Xiaoping was actually the reformer who was trying to bring China out of Mao's regime. Because he was liberalizing so much, the students started believing they could challenge things. Deng let the student protests go on for months. In the end, he just couldn't bring himself away from Chinese government orthodoxy, though. The crackdown was very controversial in Chinese military circles, with at least one general refusing to go along. It was terribly tragic, but in the end, nothing like the Cultural Revolution.

I was a grad student during the Tiananmen Sq crackdown, with many Chinese friends. It was, long before the Twitterism of the Arab Spring, the first Internet connected protest. Yes, some of those students had email and were corresponding constantly with their Chinese compatriots who were studying in the US. My university had a crappy Internet connection then - we downloaded email once every night - but we would go to our Chinese friends each day to ask what they were hearing via Internet. Information was flowing. Many of my Chinese friends had been sent down during the Cultural Revolution - they were all older than me - and they were following things intently.

As for numbers, Mao certainly outpaces most other dictators. However, keep in mind that he was ruling a country in which any town with under a million people is a small village.