Wizbang complains we don’t study wars enough in public schools. That could be correct.
Wizbang links to old posts by education writer Joanne Jacobsen and North Carolina AP history teacher Betsy to support the point. Interesting posts on interesting blogs (this is not an endorsement of the political views, only a judgment that the comments are interesting).
At Betsy’s old post (2004), I put up some comments anyway:
The story of Henry Knox carrying the cannons of Fort Ticonderoga overland — 120,000 pounds worth! — in the middle of winter, to give Washington the bluff to win the siege of Boston, is the sort of story that sticks to the intellectual ribs of kids. The story of the “midnight crossing” at Trenton, after Washington got his tail whipped in New York and things looked more dire than they did at Boston, is another turning point battle. The war doesn’t make much sense, otherwise. They can be told in ten minutes, each. If a teacher wants to expand each into an hour-long exercise, with group activities including charts and graphs, it’s difficult — but what is wrong with good old lecture from time to time — especially riveting lecture?
The social effects are parts of longer threads — the continuous and continuing increase in rights, the rise of free and important women, increasing morality, increasing technology, American communities, and the birth and growth of American-style free enterprise.
All of those threads make the whole of history more comprehensible — but they are all interwoven. The Japanese Internments are part of a larger story on xenophobia and immigration, and the growth of civil rights. To treat it as a stand-alone feature of World War II is to slight the Chinese and Irish workers who built the transcontinental railroad, Sacco and Vanzetti, the Amish, the Mormons, all Hispanics and Vietnamese.
The difficulty I find is that the kids don’t come into 11th grade with anything they should have gotten from 8th grade. But I’ve been teaching at the alternative school. Certainly in AP, you can fly, can’t you?
Why not a unit on the top ten major battles in U.S. history? It would take a day. I have a 50-minute PowerPoint on Brown v. Topeka Board of Education that spans civil rights from 1776 to 2007, and links it all.