Are We Teaching the Right Subjects?

Are We Teaching the Right Subjects?

Over the last several years I have watched with some sense of concern over the direction of American education. Are we teaching the right subjects in America? Are we failing our elementary and high school students by not teaching some of the important subjects? My wife is a kindergarten teacher here in Virginia so I have some information on the direction that the schools here are taking.

Technology in EducationMy sense is that across the country our educators have become more enamored with technology and less drawn to the fundamentals of educating the student. I was fortunate that as a child I had the Catholic Sisters of Charity as my teachers. Teaching was their career and their life. They had no distractions other than their students, of course. One sister was my mentor for my Boy Scout Reading merit badge. Talk about above and beyond.

They believed in the basics in the ’50s and ’60s: reading writing, arithmetic and of course, spelling. We had a very competitive spelling bee every week. You couldn’t conduct that type of exercise today because it would hurt someone’s feelings. The sisters saw losing as an incentive to try harder.

Modern education seems to be focused on hi-tech and glitz rather than the basics of who we are as a country. Newsweek Magazine gave 1,000 Americans a test about American History, 38% failed. The results on individual questions was startling: 29% couldn’t name the vice president; 73% couldn’t correctly say why we fought the Cold War;44% were unable to define the Bill of Rights and 6% couldn’t even circle Independence Day on a calendar.

I listen to a podcast about the Civil War that is given by a history professor at East Carolina University. Last year the North Carolina Department of Education eliminated the requirement that future high school teachers take a course in American History. They also proposed the elimination of all courses that teach American History before 1877. That would have eliminated the Colonial period, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the west ward expansion and thatFounding Fathers pesky American Civil War in which 35,000 North Carolinians lost their lives. Fortunately, public opinion prevailed and the change was killed.

This is the type of approach that modern American educators are advocating. Who needs to study the past? What good is it for the education of our students? If we forget our history we will forget our Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We will forget all of the things that made America the exceptional nation that it is.

We need to consider if we are teaching the right subjects for their development as adults but just as importantly, as citizens. The future of the United States is imperiled by the ignorance of our citizens.

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