History is Boring!

No History is not boring, but it certainly is usually taught in a boring fashion.  The main culprits:

1. Badly Written Textbooks-Usually drafted by committees of fairly untalented hacks, they frequently make the reading of technical manuals seem exciting by comparison.

2.  Politicized Drek-Textbooks often have a strong ideological slant.  These days that slant is usually, although not always, driven from the Left.  Therefore students are likely to read quite a bit on the treatment of women in colonial America, with the military history of the American revolution left to a scant two pages.  This distorts History and usually drains the life out of it, as the study of the past becomes yet another opportunity to deliver a twenty-first century political diatribe.

3.  Ignorant Teachers-Too often History is taught by teachers who have little knowledge of it and no passion for it.  When I was in high school back in the early Seventies, coaches often were  assigned to teach History, under the assumption that anyone could teach it.  There were exceptions, and I still have fond memories of Mr. Geisler who taught American history and Mr. Vanlandingham who taught European history, but the usual level of the teaching of History was quite low.

4.  Laundry Lists- States often mandate inclusion of certain subjects in History.  This results in a laundry list approach of teaching History in which so many topics must be covered that short shrift is given to understanding a period as a whole.

5.  Too Much- When I was in school we were lucky in an American history course to reach the end of World War II before the course ended.  Stuff too much of a time period into a course, and the instruction will amou

6.  The Students- The bone ignorance of most American students when it comes to History cannot be exaggerated.  When I was attending the University of Illinois I recall a conversation with a Junior at the University.  I made a passing allusion to Grant taking  Richmond, and she confessed to me that she had heard of General Grant and of General Lee but that she wasn’t sure if they had fought for the North or the South.  We can call this the John Blutarsky problem:

Instruction will be boring in History if the teachers have to assume that the students have absorbed almost no basic knowledge on the subject prior to entering their class and spend all their time teaching the most elementary of facts.

nt to a race against time.

 

7.  Lifeless History- Too often it seems that History is taught with an eye to draining all passion from it.  Wars are given short shrift, the lives of great men are ignored, and the religious and political passions of the past are treated with a lack of understanding that render them incomprehensible to the students.

All in all, a rather dispiriting litany of gloom.  In a future post we will examine what can be done to improve instruction.

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Published in: on January 24, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments (4)  
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4 Comments

  1. Amen on all accounts. The only reason that I enjoyed history in public school was becasue my dad had a passion for history and particularly of Christian influence in Europe and “New World”. My mother had a pssioin for reading, English and US literature and fed my enjoyment of biographies. Public school sucked the joy our of education as far as I am concerned.
    About 30 years ago we were watching the mini-series North and South when one of my wife’s friends (female, gun carrying deputy sheriff) asked on the third of fourth day, “Who won that war anyway?”

    • “Who won that war anyway?”

      Don weeps! :)

      • Particularly sad in that western NC, east TN up through WV, families were divided in ways that the far north and far south do not understand. I am originally from southern WV and my family had two reunions. and that goes back to the War Between the States. Arguably one of the last deaths of the conflict (murder) occured just north of where she was sittin on the couch making that statement. to be so blind… When I was a boy, before TV came into our homes our entertainment when too wet to farm was the old men and women telling stories to we grand kids. It was the best history course ever.

  2. Here’s a history teacher.

    http://www.wivb.com/dpp/news/buffalo/teacher-brings-history-lessons-to-life

    Check out his youtube channel.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/hughesDV?feature=watch

    I’m sorry I don’t know how to activate the links!


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