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U.S. Students Remain Poor at History, Tests Show

Discussion in 'Military History' started by kerrd5, Jun 14, 2011.

  1. kerrd5

    kerrd5 Ace

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    Sad and not surprising news:

    "American students are less proficient in their nation’s history than in any other subject, according to results of a nationwide test released on Tuesday, with most fourth graders unable to say why Abraham Lincoln was an important figure and few high school seniors able to identify China as the North Korean ally that fought American troops during the Korean War.

    "Over all, 20 percent of fourth graders, 17 percent of eighth graders and 12 percent of high school seniors demonstrated proficiency on the exam, the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Federal officials said they were encouraged by a slight increase in eighth-grade scores since the last administration of the history test, in 2006. But even those gains offered little to celebrate, because, for example, fewer than a third of eighth graders could answer even a 'seemingly easy question' asking them to identify an important advantage American forces had over the British during the Revolution, the government’s statement on the results said."

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/15/education/15history.html?hp
     
  2. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Not sure their British cousins are much better...
     
  3. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    I don't take too much from this. Perhaps I have to much faith in others bit I'm willing to bet that of the 80% not proficient in history, 20% are proficient in math, another 20% in science etc. By 8th grade many people have an idea of what it is they want to do, and begin focusing on the subjects that will help them achieve that.
     
  4. Spitfire_XIV

    Spitfire_XIV Member

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    Jesus, I'm the brightest one in my American History class at university and even more so at Second World War history, which both my lecturers have told me.
     
  5. belasar

    belasar Court Jester

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    For most people a history background has limited value in the workplace, as opposed to math or language skills so it is not so suprizing that people do not focus on it much. The saying that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it has been around for a long time and indication that this is nothing new in human nature.
     
  6. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    History would have to be the MOST important subject...Few understand this despite regular examples of why...One cannot go forward without knowing from whence one comes...One cannot prevent history repeating itself unless one knows it...Everything you are is your memories....the more you have the more you are...How can we build on the past if we don't know it? And history plays a bigger part in the work place than people realise...(not just talking battles and dates here...) The corner stone of civilisation is knowledge...knowledge is history.
    As an aside...they did a test in Australia in the 90s on geography...turned out more Australian kids could name and place US states than their US counterparts....now thats embarrassing...
     
  7. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Not surprising. The US has seen a very steady decline in education since the federal government got involved (Dept of Education), teachers had to have a very specific set of education certifications and, most teachers in k-12 overwhelmingly being female. History is just one more area of mediocrity in a system that largely breeds mediocrity.
     
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  8. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Being a female has nothing to do with mediocrity in history...

    In my opinion it is not what the system teaches it's the general lack of interest and and the fact that many classes are optional. But then again I don't want to start clichés here. I know Americans who are zero at history and others who are among the most brilliant WWII historians I know.

    One major problem of the U.S. system is it's "contamination" by political correctness. When I studied in the U.S. I remember kids spitting on the Colombus heritage and wanting to ban Colombus day because he was "supposed" to have introduced slavery in the U.S... (They never heard of the Dutch captain in the early 17th) When they insisted I told them to leave Colombus alone and buy a book about Leif Erikson as well.
     
  9. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    That would have stopped them in their tracks! Vikings and screelings left poor Columbus for dead...Political correctness or historical vanity? People still swear that Pluto is a planet...its what they know and don't want their world to change... You make a good point...In my opinion its not the political correctness thats led to a malaise in history...its the reputation it has garnered over the years due to teachers themselves not understanding and or appreciating the history they are teaching, fail to show its relevance, again because they dont appreciate it themselves...so the students walk away wondering why they need to know this stuff...Indeed plenty of what is taught as history IS irrelevant and inconsequential to the modern student...so subject matter and poor teaching skills and knowledge have led to this "break-down" and let me tell everyone, this breakdown WILL have consequences...just look at our history...can you imagine a whole lot of things rearing its head all over again?? The recent GFC is just one example. The current difficulties in Afganistan is another...
     
  10. belasar

    belasar Court Jester

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    Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussien, Kim Il Sung, Idi Amin, Baby Doc Duvalier, Khadaffy, Khomani, Pol Pot, Stalin, Mussolini, Franco, Napoleon, Richard the Lionheart, Charlemegne, Ghengiz Khan, Julius Ceaser, Alexander, Agamemnon.....These are just the highlights. With apologies for mangling Shakespere, the fault lies not with our political superstars, but within ourselves. History has shown that humanity has always been far too ready to follow the "Man on a White horse" so long as they tell us we are special and that we have the right to take what we want by any means needed. Hitler may have been the worst, but he was hardly the first, and clearly not the last.

    History as well as modern life move at an ever quicker pace. I can remember the point in our distant past when you only talked to people on a cell phone, when you actually got out of a chair to change the channel on a tv. When you were lost you looked at a map. When you did not judge the quality of a car by the number of cup holders it had. Our modern world has made for the common person the sum total of human knowledge and experience more accessable than anytime in human history, in virtually any format or language you might desire.

    Are we perhaps not too different from the monks who in the monastary on the hill endlessly copying down manuscripts, and curse the fools in the valley who never seem to learn?
     
  11. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Here is a link to a very short report on the History levels in US schools, the results are down or remain the same, but none are improvements it appears. Funding for schools, preset curriculum, and time devoted to the subject all seem to play a part. The most disturbing to me was the number of students who couldn't identify A. Lincoln by photo.

    Goto:

    msnbc.com Video Player
     
  12. Victor Gomez

    Victor Gomez Ace

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    History and other subjects are decreasing as an emphasis due to who we elect and what we are propagandized to vote for. Teachers during the Reagan years wanted a national cabinet level person to standardize some requirements that would be a guide for all the states to adhere to in raising standards for our system of education. Reagan considered this "more government" and populated the position with someone who would not take the "active" stance. To pacify the educational groups that wanted a standard he provided an educator a "ride on the shuttle". By so doing the educators got their fateful ride and our educational system maintained the status quo. We still have that position and it has remained inactive towards what people wanted it for.
     
  13. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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  14. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Staff Member Patron  

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    While I'll agree that there are some teachers that should apply themselves to other endeavors, most are truly dedicated to teaching and instilling a desire to learn. We are all 'wired' different. I had no interest in English and just squeaked by. What's the use of knowing how to diagram sentences and who cares what a "diphthong" is? One of the problems of Education today is the desperate attempt to raise grades by any means. Teaching to the Test is common but/and teachers are 'hog-tied' to the Board of Educations and Administrators whims; Produce or Else threats. Large class sizes, reduced time spent on the core subjects due to increased number of subjects taught and neglecting the Basics is the main cause. One falsehood that is constantly brought up is that "Tenured" teachers cannot be fired or 'let-go' ergo it's the system/teachers fault. This is wrong. If the reason is legitimate they're gone. If a teacher is not capable and is retained it is the Administrations fault
    Another reason for the low academic scores is the "It isn't MY child's fault" mentality. The lack of respect shown to today's educators can be directly attributed to the parents. If you see a student who excels or for that matter is a reasonably 'good student', look at the family connection.
    We are on this forum because of our shared interest - WW2 history- but how many of us are on a Science forum, Ancient History forum, Biology, Geography, Astronomy, etc: ?
    A standardized curriculum for all States, one with actual appreciable subject matters, would go a long way in teaching today's kids.
     
  15. Victor Gomez

    Victor Gomez Ace

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    Inescapable statistics......engineers that used to be a dime a dozen in availability with their higher math backgrounds are now in shortage. Analysts say companies can only get the numbers they need if they go to India. The college education in the U.S. is too expensive, and fails to compete with global sources. As a result, the company can only foresee a viable future if it is willing to locate it's jobs where it can obtain the qualified workers. How did we get to where we are at? Private schools found it profitable to provide educations for profit and have put many into debt for their education. Public educational institutions have also targeted tuition for raising money they needed plus they take supplements supplied by state taxes. This double dipping is now a standard that enables costs for students to go up without any restrictions. I have always wanted state legislatures to fund based on how low in price, the institution can provide educations to the students. Instead they are rewarded for raising costs. The typical voter/parent pays little attention to these facets of our educational system, so that which is ignored, never seems to get any better in my observance. This continues to spiral towards an ever downward trend for our schools, and job opportunities. It does not matter how you reward private enterprise they are going to go where they can make money and if they can't find the best educated here it is not going to be here. It will become increasingly harder for our students to find a school as more and more they are making spots most available to the foreign student at the higher and more profitable rates they will pay for their spot in our schools. More schools are targeting the money, instead of providing a service to their own state's people who paid the taxes that built the institution. Very few people pay attention to any of this.
     
  16. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    Hello! The cost of raising children in Canada is prohibitive . Our climate means huge bills 3-4 months of the year. Unless you are on the dole. Average people can't afford to have kids here. That's why I only had 1. Look at our birth rates. Gonna bust my balls sending him to university. (I'll be like the male black widow after mating. Expend all resources then die. More likely to be consumed by the vengeful female. ). No rest for the weary.
    The teachers here rarely work compared to the schedule back in the 70's. Complain all the time about workload(?). They are union. That says it all. Remember when the dock workers went on strike during ww2? The hatred between those who had to do the work that needed to be done and those who felt their personal gain was more important. We are losing our identity and all that our forefathers fought for. Unions, once good for the people, now our bane...Oh, by the way our faithful postal service is on strike. I just got a message from my stamp licking mail lady (union) who says I have to trim my hedge. She should trim hers. Paper guy, pizza guy, mormon guy, purolator guy, alarm guy all have no issues. But the mail lady....Pardon my rant, but it felt pretty good.
     
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  17. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    I don't see why people are acting so surprised in the US.

    When I was going through high school back in the late 80's. All the standardized tests focused on English and Math, and, IIRC, the SAT test that I took to get into college had no history questions what so ever. Heck, even the ASVAB(Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) did not have any history questions that I remember. I don't know what the tests are like nowadays, but I don't think they are that much different.

    So, if the majority of the tests are geared toward other subjects, then the teachers will teach more about those subjects and neglect the ones that are not on those tests.

    But, I believe belasar pretty much hit the nail on the head. A strong history background is not necessary in most fields of work. Whereas, having a strong background in language, math, science, etc. is.
     
  18. Victor Gomez

    Victor Gomez Ace

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    I'm one of those opinionated individuals, and on a level I can agree with the assessment of what one needs to get by at a job is not always the written skills.......however I am also seeing us driven by propaganda, molded by designed political adds that cause us to vote against our true interest, and unwise in making the general decisions that involve our vote. Unwise to the point that our system begins to fail a bit at true democracy, favoring more and more a plutocracy. We all see the failing of our legislators but we do not all see that there was a group that was 100% successful at getting what they wanted in the last two years, and that is the lobbyists. They took it their way on nearly every issue. The legislators would rather displease us than them. Without their money the campaigns falter. It is only education of voters starting at young levels in our schools that could ever cause the will of the people to prevail. If we fail at this we will get more plutocracy. If you are a person of average means, this should be the primary concern as you are the one that will continue to lose out to the moneyed interests. All the powers of the plutocracy wish for you to carry the load.
     
  19. Sturmpioniere

    Sturmpioniere Member

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    This is just sad. I know one time in class a girl thought the Holocaust and the Nazis were in WWI, and I've heard a story of a girl who thought Pearl Harbor happened during Vietnam. As for the thing with China being Korea's ally during the Korean War, that doesn't really surprise me as the Korean War is mainly forgotten, unfortunately. Funny thing is, a lot of people actually probably heard of the Korean War for the first time in Gran Torino. If you want my opinion, I think World History is more important than US History because you get a better, mostly non one-sided view of history. Just my input.
     
  20. Clementine

    Clementine Member

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    Thank you (on your comment on females) and thank you (for your comment about political correctness).

    I think the political correctness also causes issues because of the way it hampers the execution of education and the expectations we place upon our students. Everything is a watered-down version, suitable for all, when the truth is history is often ugly and painful, just as it is sometimes glorious. (I'd argue that is still suitable for all, because it is what it is.) Teachers do not have sufficient authority to see that lessons are properly learned (they can't properly discipline and they can't hold students back). And we certainly don't set the bar nearly high enough in our education system, so it's no wonder we aren't reaching any heights.

    It's kind of interesting to me that when I was in school we discussed Columbus - the great and mighty discoverer of America. When my son was in school, they hardly spoke of Columbus because he is offensive to the Native Americans. Both attitudes are ridiculous, the sanitized version and avoiding the topic all-together. (I am not really sure how in-depth that discussion needs to go in school, he did sort of just stumble upon us, but his discovery, accidental as it was, and the changes that he brought to the Americas are part of our history. Why not tell it and tell it right?

    But with that said, it does come down to a general lack of interest. How else do you explain any American not knowing the face of Lincoln, one of the most recognizable faces in our country, a man often considered to be our greatest president, that guy on the penny, the five-dollar bill? I really am at a loss as to how anyone in this country could get through life without some knowledge of Abraham Lincoln - even if just from the Geico commercial. Geez.

    And for the record - I was raised to believe that all people are created equal in the eyes of God and I believe that to this day, but I dislike political correctness because it is so often taken to such ridiculous lengths. (My apologies to any atheists in case that reference is offensive, she said with a touch of irony.) If we display and teach respect, I don't think there'd be any need for political correctness, it would take care of itself.
     
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