Sunday, July 03, 2005

David McCullough and misinformation

Another one of the many times when informed persons, in this case a historian, is accepted as an expert on schooling –which he is not.

In the July 2 interview with David McCollough by Tim Russert on CNBC about the new book 1776. the interview was informative and very interesting. I enjoyed the history offered about the War of Independence.

However, McCollough should be more accurate with his claims of information.
Tim Russert asked: "Why do current U.S. students know so little history?"
McCollough: " One major reason is that teachers don't have to study history. T
They can major in Education and not take any history. Then, since they do not know history, they do not share its excitement and interest. "

This is an old claim which has been bouncing around right wing circles for decades- and it is wrong. Such claims are often accepted as truth in Republican circles.
I graduated with a B.A. in Social Studies Education in 1964,from the U. of Norther Iowa. I had to take a substantial number of history courses. I later received an M.A. and a Doctorate in History from Carnegie Mellon U.

In California since 1972 you can not major in education. You must major in an academic discipline. Now, over 10% of the nation's students are in California.
There is no evidence that California students know more history than students from other states where teachers may major in history.

The interview was great and the book seems interesting.
However, we should not allow these throw away criticisms of teachers to go unanswered. In this case, they are simply wrong.

Duane E. Campbell

Sacramento
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