Mitchell-Lama Mama’s Blog

an ordinary life in an extraordinary city

Don’t Know Much About History January 30, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — mitchelllamamama @ 3:47 pm
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Happy Friday All! 


Sorry I was MIA yesterday, I chaperoned a field trip with the girl’s class, and wasn’t feeling well after I returned home–can’t imagine why 😉


I went to NYC public schools, and boy have they changed.  A lot for the better (though I didn’t grow up in a remotely progressive area, and as far as I know there was 0 choice). 


Papa and I have had several discussions over the years about the change in history being taught, both in perspective and amount.  The other morning a conversation with my little guy brought this subject to the forefront again.  I had taken the little guy to get his hair trimmed last week, and he isn’t happy with the result.  He keeps his hair long; he likes it that way and it seems to me to be a wasted issue to take a stand on.  Not to mention he’s got beautiful hair and looks pretty darned handsome. 😛 


I you tubed a clip of the song Hair, from the movie of the same name, thinking little guy would enjoy it.  In the interests of full disclosure (of my own dorkiness), I LOVED this movie, and saw it a bazillion times when I was younger.  I’m excited now, knowing there is a revival opening on Broadway next month, even knowing the odds are mighty slim that we will be able to squeeze out money for tix before it closes–no matter how long the run.  I didn’t see it in its original run.  My grandmother did, and came home whispering to me, “It’s a dirty show.  They took their clothes off.”  Then she blushed and laughed, and said it was good otherwise. 


Back to topic.  Before showing little guy the clip, I gave him a brief synopsis of what the storyline was, so he’d have context as to why they’re singing and dancing in a jail.  Little guy isn’t all that little, he’s almost 11, and he has learned nothing in school about the Vietnam War, the Counterculture of that era, and why it is important in American history.  


Somehow or other this led to my mentioning WWII and the Holocaust, and he wasn’t familiar with the term Holocaust.  When I referenced Hitler, he knew who I was talking about  and gave him a point of reference.  But, when I started talking about numbers, he was floored and horrified.  I was too, how can children be in school for six years and not spend a couple of days on this?  Most people recognize the number six million as the number of Jewish people slaughtered, but too few don’t recognize that millions more were killed.  I’ve seen the number as “low” as 9 million and as high as 17 million; what I’ve seen most cited is around 13 million.  A staggering number, and the one good thing (if you can call it that) I can say is that little guy understood the enormity of it immediately. 


I know history is taught differently now, and I think much of that is positive.  Our children should be raised with sensitivity. I believe the Vietnam War is sometimes referred to as the “American War” in Vietnam.  Both of my sons studied the early explorers and the Revolutionary War extensively–little guy knows much more about the history of the Revolutionary War than I do.  But it seems to me that at this point,  when he’s old enough to watch the news and ask about what’s going on in the world and why, follow our Presidential elections and form opinions based on what he’s reading and seeing, he should have been given at least a rough working knowledge of our country’s time line.  


I know, from my older son, that more is learned in the upper grades. At least I hope so. (My oldest went into private school at 6th grade.) Why is the most complete overview of our country’s history coming from the American Girl catalogue, and not our public schools?


7 Responses to “Don’t Know Much About History”

  1. CasaDe Says:

    Wow! I’d heard history was revised, but I didn’t know how much!

    We are covering US History this year (for the second or third time). Right now we’re stuck in the Revolution, but it seems to be a favorite country-wide theme. We will cover the Civil War, both World Wars, Vietnam, Korea, and not sure what else.

    Perhaps you could fill in with some historical novels or biographies from the library. The curriculum we use is literature based.

    My kids love history so much that they forget it’s part of school.

  2. mitchelllamamama Says:

    Yanno Casa De, that’s the kicker, most kids (including mine) love history when it’s presented well. I like the idea of using historical novels, and I’m sure I have several on the bookshelf that will be helpful. You’ve got my wheels turning, and I’m open to suggestions. 🙂

  3. shoesan Says:

    I can field this one from an educator’s side. Social Studies Curriculum NYC DOE First grade does basic communities, second more in depth (Local), third learns specific (China ) This addresses the state standards “Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in world history and examine the broad sweep of history from a variety of perspectives”
    civilization (e.g., West African, Japanese, Chinese, European).
    (Adapted from National Standards for History)
    Fourth is the history of NY , fifth is the 50 states and DBQ’s (document based ques) and some US history.
    Interment School is different.
    Here is a link to the standards

  4. shoesan Says:

    OOPS that didnt exactly post as planned. I hope you can read it!
    I was trying to convey that we are very structured. We do not get to chose what we teach!
    I am going out for cheese and chocolate 😀

  5. mitchelllamamama Says:

    No worries Shoesan, I was able to read it just fine. 🙂 I do know this is not something the individual schools or teachers are deciding, and I appreciate the value of learning how the Erie Canal influenced the development of NY. Heck, I even know all the words to the Erie Canal song. I just feel they’re completely skipping a heck of a lot.

    Not sure cheese and chocolate is my ideal combo, but whatever floats your boat. 😉 It’s Friday Night Madness! 😛

  6. cmscribbles Says:

    I don’t know much about history either…so I avoided this post 🙂
    I hated history through my school years–BORING. I think it had everything to do with poor teaching–because when I got to college and took different history courses–I couldn’t get enough. For me, I needed to see big picture…memorizing dates and facts was not enough. Learning it as a story within a context made all the difference.

    Shoesan said what I was going to add about teaching the standards…but she totally caught me off guard with the cheese and chocolate combo comment :O yanno I googled it! 🙂 I think I’ll stick to chocolate and strawberries.

    mama~ hope friday night madness and your weekend were great and hoping the girl is well.

  7. shoesan Says:

    Oh Mama where are you?? I hope all is OK!!
    LOL I went to a fondue place “The Melting Pot”
    we learned from past dining experience to SKIP the dinner.
    SO we just had Cheese fondue THEN relaxed, had a few drinks and THEN chocolate fondue NOT together LMAO (No cheese and chocolate) Guess I should have explained 😉
    The first time we went, we had the whole experience. The dinner was cooking your main course in some broth, VERY blah. The cheese and chocolate was PLENTY!

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