Here’s an interesting cultural thing.
ARVADA, Colo. (AP) — Hundreds of students walked out of classrooms around suburban Denver on Tuesday in protest over a conservative-led school board proposal to focus history education on topics that promote citizenship, patriotism and respect for authority, in a show of civil disobedience that the new standards would aim to downplay.
The youth protest involving six high schools in the state’s second-largest school district follows a sick-out from teachers that shut down two high schools in the politically and economically diverse area that has become a key political battleground.
Student participants said their demonstration was organized by word of mouth and social media. Many waved American flags and carried signs, including messages that read “There is nothing more patriotic than protest.”
“I don’t think my education should be censored. We should be able to know what happened in our past,” said Tori Leu, a 17-year-old student who protested at Ralston Valley High School in Arvada.
The school board proposal that triggered the walkouts in Jefferson County calls for instructional materials that present positive aspects of the nation and its heritage. It would establish a committee to regularly review texts and course plans, starting with Advanced Placement history, to make sure materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights” and don’t “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”
As an avid student of history, I can assure you that there is a lot of it. I’ve spent the last year or so reading only about the period in America from about 1917 to 1938 and there are still literally thousands of books on the era that I won’t read before moving onto my next subject (I’m thinking medieval China). By definition, whatever history is taught in the maybe 400 hours of high school history instructional time these kids will get will have to be censored. Someone will have to pick and choose what aspects, time periods, locations, people, things, movements, etc. of history that will be taught. Why are the good aspects of America’s history any less valid than the bad aspects? Can we not provide a comprehensive history education – at least as much as you can in a high school class with the time allowed – without spending 80% of the time on America’s faults?
Hopefully, whatever these kids are taught will encourage them to go out and advance their history education on their own. One can’t cram a full history education into a life time, much less a high school class.