History In Our Schools

Discussion in 'The Barber Shop' started by mark the shoeshine boy, Jul 2, 2006.

  1. mark the shoeshine boy

    mark the shoeshine boy Moderator Emeritus

    It was brought up about the amount of History that is being taught in our schools. How much and how much depth should we go ?

    Harry Truman was an amateur historian, but he stated by knowing history, you will know what would happen in the future. He was especially speaking of countries and thier government. I have always remembered that.

    I made straight A's in American History in college, because of my background as a young man. Yes at the shoeshine stand, customers would tell me stories of thier lives and what "it was like for them" during thier lives. I transposed this into many of my history papers, and the instructor, just loved them.

    On vacation, we would always go someplace in a historical setting. Gettysburg, Washington DC, Pilot Knob, Springfield Il (Lincoln museum), and just all over the United States. This real life, up close instructor has made an imprint of what some folks have gone through for this country.

    But my new question is: Just how much History should be taught in our schools ? What depth should we go in ?

    The comment has been made that WWII is merely a half of page. Vietnam is a paragraph with the word "mistake" in it.

    Have you ever watched Jay Leno, where he asks people on the street about History ? Most of them are so far away from the right answer, it is pathetic.

    I perhaps dig deeper in some things than others, because I am a Mason. Many of our early forefathers were Masons, too. Yes there is a lot of Masonic influence in our basic principles. Example, the Boston Tea Party..."they" met at the Green Dragon Tavern...if you read earlier accounts, they will say...they met UPSTAIRS at the tavern....guess what is upstairs ??? A Masonic Lodge.... !!!!

    However, let me go on...."the Greatest generation" Our grandmothers and grandfathers who lived during WWII should never be forgotten, once again...the unity of the nation, was something like we never have seen before. Our soldiers, our uso entertainers, our factory workers, and even those who were diligrnt in prayer, helped this nation win a victory. This setup our lives for the next 50 years until the Berlin wall came down...

    Why did my kids spend 5 days at our school on Dr. King ??? 5 days...but you don't talk about the Revolutionary war but for a day ? WWI and WWII in fifteen minutes.

    Let me hear what you have to say !!!!

    Mark the shoeshine boy
  2. Kyle

    Kyle Moderator Emeritus Contributor

    Mark, I think that there exist many issues with the current state of our education system that far surpass history alone. My wife was a high school English teacher for some time, and I used to help her grade papers. It was/is simply appalling to see the number of juniors and seniors in high school that cannot construct a complete and grammatically correct paragraph.

    Having said this, I do not believe that the problem is with our educators or the system in which they operate (other than our refusal to pay them adequately). For many reasons (feel free to pick the ones you want), a good number of today's students are highly unmotivated and very unwilling to accept any kind of responsibility.

    As a coach, I work with a generation of young men whose greatest efforts are often times extolled on avoiding the acceptance of responsibility for their actions. Because of this, greater than my fear of a poor education is my fear that we are seeing the emergence of a generation that has questionable morality, poor principles, and bad ethics.
  3. Austin

    Austin Moderator Emeritus


    Mark, I didn't know your last name was Mason. Thanks for letting us know. :biggrin:
  4. mrob

    mrob Moderator Emeritus


    I taught in the schools for 10 years, and now work as a teacher educator. Let me assure you that there is not a school in the country where they are spending 15 minutes on the Revolutionary War, or 5 minutes on the World Wars, and 5 days on MLK. As to whether the Vietnam War was a "mistake" or not, most current history texts treat this an issue for discussion and debate, as I expect future texts will treat our current war (see previous threads in this forum).

    As to the amount of time spent discussing Dr. King and his work--I don't know where you are getting the "5 days" figure, but I've not worked in or heard of a school that devotes that much time to any topic or person--which is probably a mistake. Most current thought is that its far better to dig deeply into relatively fewer topics than to attempt an impossibly broad and wide review of all of history in a semester or 2. Many folks like the idea of a historical "canon", but the discussion unravels when it comes time to determine exactly what factoids belong on the list.

    This is one of those issues that some folks bring up to try to show how poorly the schools and teachers are doing, and its just not true. When we ask people how the schools are doing in their own community, the overwhelming majority believe that their schools are good or excellent, and that the "problems" with public education are in "other peoples' schools." A classic case of NIMBY--Not In My Back Yard--thinking.

    Jay Leno's skits aside, I believe that our schools are doing an excellent job, especially considering that the education budget in K-12 and higher ed has been shrinking for the past 5 or 6 years. Its easy to be a "expert" on the problems in public education--after all, everybody went to school, right? But following the same logic, everyone who has been sick should be an expert in medicine, too--and I doubt we'd listen too carefully to suggestions regarding health care reform from those outside of the health care industry. . .oops, we do that, too!:biggrin:
  5. mark the shoeshine boy

    mark the shoeshine boy Moderator Emeritus


    You a valid point about teacher pay. I agree that in alot of schools the pay scale is below what is should be. I am not a very good writer myself.

    My history teaching came in form of many "films" on the various subjects. Time life books brought out a seires that took each decade and highlighted subjects. That would wet my appetite for more and then I would go and read about the subjects.

    I guess i feel an importance of knowing of what has happened, so we can make wise decisions in the future. Having a child to "learn" this theory then he can apply this to everything in life.

    Our Superintendant is focused on two things. Having the MAP (Missouri Assessment Program) test scores improve for more funding and building a bigger football stadium. He is from Texas. He said this is what they do down there.

    Many of our teachers are disgusted because of the focus of the MAP test, we leave out the focus of the child to reason on his own, to do it the long way, just teach the test. !!!

    Our high school principal suddenly quit and took a new job in another part of the state. Before he came in our high school took top national honors. He stepped in and we had a great footbal team. It may sound like I am against sports, perhaps am. I am told that it pulls in alot of money. For what ? It wasn;t spent on teachers salaries or benefits...it wasn't spent on new computers or band equipment....but we got a new sprinkler system for the field !!!!

    But back to this subject of teaching history. If we delve into teaching more about WWII for example. Will that stir hatred in our mixed society ?

    Will a white boy turn to a oriental girl and tell her that her grandfather killed my grandfather at Iwo Jima ? Perhaps the little girl could tell about her grandfather's family being encamped in a california detainee camp...it was a POW camp !!!!

    Howa bout the Civil War ? Maybe that kid will turn to a black boy and say I should sell you down the river....Perhaps that boy could tell how his family was a peaceful people that lived in Africa and one day was captured and put into slavery, being brought up in a strange land and how his genrations survived through the years.

    I don;t know, perhaps I am so zealous about learning that I am falling short of the modern day society's goal. Make as much money as you can, do as little as possible, and make it look better than it is.

    mark tssb
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  7. George,

    Not to be rude, but did you start your career at McDonalds or something? I can only speak for Canada (and even then my experiences are limited to the provinces of ON, NB, PEI, NS and NL) but for a career that requires 5 or 6 years of university (like, for example, would be required to become a lawyer or to get your MBA after you get your undergrad) teachers are paid dick-all.

    Do they deserve more $$ for working a job that demands as much as it does (5 or 6 years of education, suffering verbal and sometimes physical abuse at the hands of students and parents, working in sub-standard buildings, etc)? I would be inclined to think they do. Are teachers likely to get paid what they are worth for shaping the future generations to the best of their abilities (given the restrictions placed on them by limited funds and the "rules")? I would guess that the answer is sadly, "no".

    The thing is, people don't become teachers because they want to be rich, people become teachers because they care. They care about teaching. They care about learning. They care about the children that they will teach. They care about the communities in which they will teach. I don't understand why, but teachers care and that is why they teach.
  8. mrob

    mrob Moderator Emeritus

    Good point--looking back we always have rose-colored glasses on. We've made lots of good changes, as you mention above--and some poor ones, to be fair. But on the balance, we progress--which is good.

    Again, spot on. The #1 predictor for improved achievement among students is teacher quality--nothing else comes close. Good teachers = good schools = good student achievement.

    We'll have to agree to disagree here. :smile: I've been teaching since 1980, have 5 college degrees, and still make a relatively modest salary as a college professor. My wife, who has 17 years experience, and is a fantastic teacher, is paid far beneath her worth. If the schools could bid competively for teachers' services with reasonable resources, she would make $70-80K easily, and be well worth it.

    I'm not sure I understand your point here. Are you saying that beginning teachers *should* make less than beginning business grauates? Why? What's the reasoning here? It also sounds like you are--in your words--"whining" about how little you were paid when you started in business.

    And if I may be so bold--why is it OK that teachers get paid a poor salary ("If you are whining about the pay, go do something else. You are not going to become rich through teaching. Deal with it.")? Why should teachers not question a system where they are not compensated appropriately/fairly for their education and background, while corporate executives get rich off of "golden parachute" deals as they plunder retirees' investment accounts? One thing we may agree on: education should certainly not try to copy the example of today's business model.

    I don't know many teachers who have *ever* had a summer off. This summer, for example, my wife is taking a graduate course--on her own dime--purely for the purpose of improving her skills as a teacher and learning some new techniques and strategies. How many of your colleagues in the business world are doing this? Paying out of their own pocket for something that will help them do their job better? I am teaching a 6 week summer graduate course for teachers, and will also spend some time on my own writing and researching, which is a big part of my job as a college teacher.

    We also have 2 young sons, who we enjoy spending time with over the summer. When you compare American's vacation time to other industrialized nations, you'll find that other countries treat their citizens in a much more humane fashion. Its not a virtue to work 12 months a year. The rest of the world has figured this out, while we labor under an antiquated Victorian notion that vacations and time away from work are for the weak.

    Everything is not always as it seems. I imagine a large part of why stores "close down" when the cash register malfunctions has to do with inventory reporting and other accounting procedures--not the register operators' poor math skills.

    One of the signs of an enlightened society is how they treat those who work for the greater good--police officers, fire fighters, teachers, etc. We've made some progress in this area in the last decade or so, but clearly there's still a ways to go.
  9. Mitch,

    Thanks for saying things a little more elloquently than I did re: salary and vacation. I just hate to hear people bitching about teachers "having it easy" or complaining that teachers "don't do enough". I am not a teacher, but both of my parents were, 2 of my 3 brothers are, my soon-to-be-wife is and many of my closest friends are teachers too.
  10. ouch

    ouch Moderator Contributor

    I recall how, many years ago, one of my teachers would point at what was then called the "custodian" and make the following disparaging comment: "You better study hard, or you'll wind up like him!"

    Years later, we came to learn that such a man earns more than the principal.

    Mind you, nobody, and I mean nobody, is more pro-education than I am, but, sadly, we live in such a materialistic society that knowledge plays second fiddle to wealth. The richest person I know (a childhood friend), dropped out of high school (not a wise choice by any definition) and by dint of sheer effort wound up owning fifteen shopping malls. Should you value his opinion over mine in any matter of importance? No. Do I get to live in the house across the street from him? Again, no. (Don't worry about me- I'm doing fine.) Who gets the NIB gold 195 on ebay- an erudite scholar from B&B, or Mike Tyson?

    I don't know what's more sad: the scant attention we give to spreading wisdom, or the undue emphasis we place on material possession.
  11. An eloquent thread we have here gentlemen. A friend of mine graduated with his teachers degree, a young man that would have made the absolute perfect teacher: thoughtful, caring, knowledgable, and the sort of person kids just find incredibly cool and respect. Why isn't he a teacher today? He simply couldn't afford to pay his mortgage on a teacher's salary. His solution? Work as a teacher part-time for the pleasure of it, while retaining his current part-time job as a doorman in order to earn enough to make ends meet. I think his story says a lot.
  12. That DOES say a lot. How many other careers requiring 6 years of university training could you take where you would need to take a second job just to make ends meet? How many lawyers or physiotherapists do you think work a second job as a doorman or waiter/waitress (or etc)?
  13. Austin

    Austin Moderator Emeritus

    I had a girlfriend who was a teacher at a San Antonio inner city school. She tried very hard to teach her secondary students and get their families involved. She even spent her own money buying supplies for the classroom. She was able to get some of her students interested in school but did not have very much luck with their parents.

    Her salary was not very much but the experience was rewarding. I have utmost respect for her devoting her time and effort in teaching. She certainly could have made alot more money in the private sector but she chose to teach.
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  15. Let's not forget that this is the average that includes those who have been working for 20-30 years and is probably about 1.5-2X the starting salary. Just for the sake of comparison, think that you could find the average salary for other careers where you get 5 or 6 years of university?
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  17. Kyle

    Kyle Moderator Emeritus Contributor

    As these topics are ones that I can easily get worked up over, I’m going to say my bit and let it rest. Undoubtedly, some of you will disagree and that is your right.

    Since our public school systems have chosen to include such extracurricular activities and groups such as clubs, sports, band, cheer, etc., it is only fitting that they properly fund them. I could spend all day arguing about and defending the value and benefits of said programs. The bottom line, however, is if you are going to include it, then you need to properly fund it. If you take issue with what proper funding is, then I encourage you to go to your next school board meeting and get involved.

    Missouri has their MAP program, Texas has the TAKS test, and I believe that most states either have an equivalent or are working toward the implementation of one. While I am sure that the initial intent of these was honorable, they’ve missed the mark to some degree. I would be willing to gamble that nearly every teacher in America has a gripe (or two or three) about these tests. One of the big issues beginning to affect education from kindergarten through college is the fact that fewer and fewer educators are being hired into any of the decision-making positions. How can we possibly expect someone who has never taught in the classroom to have the ability to write and implement the best policy for the classroom? That is like taking wet shaving advice from someone who has only read about it and never done it. To add insult to injury, continual changes and additions to this policy will be implemented before the problems surrounding the first group of policies have been addressed. Eventually you just end up with a big damn mess and no end in sight.

    Saying that teachers only work 9 months of the year (3 month vacation) is almost as ridiculous as claiming that they only work from 8:00 to 3:30 every day. If anyone really believes either of these statements to be true, then they have either chosen to remain ignorant or have been grossly mislead somewhere along the way. Teacher’s pay is not only pathetically low, but also does not adequately increase with level of experience or education.
  18. No, trust me, comparing apples and apples is how you make a valid comparison. Comparing the salary of somebody who has 6 years of university education with somebody who dropped out in grade 9 and with somebody who spent longer in university (a surgical specialist, perhaps) is not a valid comparison just because they all would be included in computing the meaningless national average.

    If you want to use the national average in a useful comparison you must would want to compare the national average in one county to the national average in another country - if you do this you will find that it is of very limited use to this argument.
  19. JMT


    I am in school to become a teacher. This past school year I was able to observe several elementary schools. I believe the problem with American's knowledge begins here. In the state of Illinois, and I believe the rest of the states have to follow the same guidelines, the students are not subjected to standardized testing that involves history. Thanks to No Child Left Behind the amount of funding from the state and federal governments are determined by the school's average scores on these tests. Therefore history is largely ignored. One of the 5th grade classrooms I observed this past year covered the entire constitution in about 45 minutes. The teacher did explain to me that after the testing is over the classes will be more in depth and the students will be able to spend more time in Social Studies. The problem with this is that I observed this class in April, only about 6 weeks left in the year.

    The problem is not as bad in Junior High and High School because there are individual classes which focus on these subjects so no one area is emphasized more than another. Until it is time for the standardized tests.

    The issue is if the government does not think history is important enough to be included in the tests, than the schools won't emphasize it, and the students will not think it is important. This is where the idiots on Jay Leno come from.

    Finally in response to the teacher pay arguments. Teachers not only make less than they are worth, they spend more of their own money on their jobs than people in other professions. I'm not just talking about grad classes. I am also referring to equipment and learning aids for the classroom.

    I knew when I went back to school to get my teaching certification that I would be taking pay cut. I am going to teach because I care. Just because I know I won't get rich teaching does not mean I have to like it. The fact that I have a few extra weeks in the Summer "off" is also a pretty lame excuse for the pay argument.

    For those who think teachers are overpaid. I have had this argument so many times that I know you are a lost cause and the only way to get you back would be to make you teach. However this is much easier said than done. I just would like to ask how much money you make and why do you deserve this amount or even more? Is the work you do more important than educating the youth and future leaders of your country?

    Just my $.02
  20. Thanks for making that point. I didn't want to mention the 9:00 - 3:30 thing.

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