Tuesday, June 16, 2009

History Footnote

I’d just finished yesterday’s posting (“history is a lens for examining our own times”) when Brigitte came in and handed me a letter in that morning’s New York Times. It was under the heading UNINTERESTED IN HISTORY, EVEN THE TURNING POINTS. Part of that letter was the following paragraph:

During the 1980s, I taught United States history to American soldiers stationed in South Korea. In one fairly typical class, not one of the students had heard of the Battle of Gettysburg. Perhaps their high school teachers considered the subject a mere matter of military history. But most of the people who fought and died at Gettysburg were ordinary Americans, and our lives would be very different now if the ones wearing blue had stayed home.[Richard Joffe.]
This letter illustrates just how difficult it is to maintain a democracy when people are brought up poorly (because marriages shatter), are poorly educated (because curricula morph like sci-fi monsters), flickering images replace words on paper—and so an ad nauseam. The little things do matter. The basics are—basic.

3 comments:

  1. Maybe we could drum up a little more interest in history if we had a 3-D blockbuster movie called "Gettysburg" starring Will Smith as Gen. George Meade, George Clooney as Gen. Robert E. Lee, Brad Pitt as Gen. George Pickett, Jessica Biel as President Abraham Lincoln, and "Weird" Al Yankovic as Smidgee, the UFO Alien who saves the day for the North.

    I volunteer to write the script if somebody can get that cast together for us.

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  2. I don't know the HTML code for spontaneous laughter, but you, John, have the knack!

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  3. My thought upon reading the quotation you post from the NYT was, wow, even way back then our teaching of our own history was that bad? Eegads.

    We are definitely allowing a two tiered society to form... in many ways.

    But, laughter does help! Thanks John.

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