A typical school year. Of the 365 days in a year the school is open 280 days. In a typical middle school, the average period of forty to fifty minutes contains three new pieces of information. That believe it or not is all the students can handle. So, a typical lesson on the American Revolution would contain that it was the colonist who eventually fought the British. That in Boston there was the dumping of the tea into Boston Harbor That there was a Boston Massacre. Possibly mentioned would be Crisps Attacks, John Addams, and Benjamin Franklin. That the time was around 1773 and there were some colonists who really favored being ruled by Britain. Possibly the Lexington march might be mentioned.
Now for the kicker. If you have a child who is or was in the seventh grade, ask them to tell you about any of these events. I bet if I asked the average person on the street about these events they would be hazy on the facts. We tend to learn by doing things repeatedly. If the information on these events have just been stored in our brains and not brought up to consciousness they will fade and become distorted. Even the question of which came first the Boston Tea Party or Massacre will send one to the history books. The sad thing is this is what we base our democracy on and it has been obliterated to just a mere mention.
We could wait until high school to get more but the dropout rate is so high that the average student avoids the information. Add to that that the cell phone, I pad and the rest of the material the students bring to a high school class gets the attention and not curriculum.
I used to spend a lot of time getting the lessons more interesting, but the average teacher just goes by the book because of the core principle. And the core principle is as dry as old bones. Remember what is not interesting is avoided. Remember that a student will buy the abridge version of Moby Dick rather than read the whole story. Remember CGI is now believed to be real. Many children believe there is an Aqua man out there. That Thor existed and had that hammer. That there is a master criminal out there like the Joker. Fake becomes reality and reality becomes distorted.
In “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” one of the reporters will not print the truth of what happened because the fiction was so entwined into folklore that people would not believe it.
The kicker is how we viewed the Presidents. Lincoln was great and Nixon was a crook.
No one knows who Polk was, Adams, and Hoover just names in the list of guys who ran the country. Nixon now looks good against Trump. But he was a loon. Paranoia personified.
We have been in so many wars and conflicts you could lose count. Most people do not know of the War of 1812, the Spanish-American War or the Iraq War are fading into the history books of dust and memories. We teach wars but the horror of it is that people die and are harmed physically and mentally. John Wayne was a war hero who never fired a shot. He killed more people in the movies than most men. Not that he was a coward. But a real American hero was Audie Murphy who did kill not only in the movies but in the service of his country. The only problem is that it has been written that he was anti-Jewish. Since I am a Jew that bothers me. So, a man who fought for my freedom did not like my religion and my person. That is screwy to me.
Like it has been said, “You can not handle the truth,” and that is so right. We are a nation based on non-truths. We strive to be the best, but we sometimes fail. In all we are at least trying and that is better than most of the world. How do you teach that.