here). Um...because America was founded on the principles of love and peace, right?
But Colorado isn't the only state that is looking at the way our country's history is being taught. Texas is already on record for opposing the teaching of the new AP curriculum in their schools and South Carolina and Tennessee are contemplating following suit. Opponents of the new curriculum claim it teaches a revisionist history of our country and one mother, a college history major herself, opposes the curriculum on the grounds that it was reviewed and approved by college history professors who "by and large, are on the left". The recurring theme that opponents keep returning to is the fact that students are not being taught about their "exceptionalism". Their message seems to be that if students aren't taught that they and their country are great, then they aren't learning the important parts of their history. I have so many thoughts on this.... Perhaps students should be able to infer this for themselves rather than being told. And greatness is all in a perspective; what made one act seem great was undoubtedly at the expense of someone or something else. Does it benefit someone from a Native American heritage to sit in a class and be told that his people were "bad" while the white settlers were "good". And then there is the phrase of "exceptionalism" itself. That seems to be the catch phrase that is applied to a whole generation of children yet if everyone is branded as exceptional, what does that really mean?
On the other side of the argument are many students and educators who will be affected by the changes. They are taking to the streets and protesting the school board's actions---thus creating the civil unrest the board so wants to stifle. And then there is the American Historical Association who endorses the new curriculum for the very challenging students and teaching them a broader perspective of our history. James Grossman, chief executive of the association says it best with teaching history is a choice "between a more comfortable national history and a more unsettling one. There's always pressure to use history to unite a people, to create a comfortable sense of yourselves." We all do it. Really, it is so much nicer to be in our comfort zone and feel good about ourselves, our personal stories and our history. But it this reality?
I was an American history major in college. I attended an elite, undoubtedly liberal, East Coast college where I shared classroom space with women from all socio-economic and political backgrounds, haling from every state in the country as well as countries spanning the globe. My classes were taught but highly educated professors who taught us the good and bad, the pretty and yes, the ugly of our country's history. We were challenged to always think about what we were reading and hearing from varying perspectives and to never accept anything as fact without questioning it.
And do you know what I learned? I learned that history is rarely pretty; sure it can be glossed over but in doing so, the important lessons of our past are lost. And in losing our past we are forgetting the important lessons that shaped our country into what it is today. Twenty years later I still clearly remember something my favorite history professor said. On the cusp of our graduation he told us that those who forget or ignore their history are doomed to repeat it. Think about that. Is that the direction we want our proud country to move towards?