Goals in Study of U.S. History Light Firestorm

By 1994, Chicago Tribune | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), December 25, 1994 | Go to article overview

Goals in Study of U.S. History Light Firestorm


1994, Chicago Tribune, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


The goal is to wipe out all those groans and glazed-over looks that greet elementary and high school teachers when they bring up the topic of history.

The proposed solution, the nation learned last fall, is to let American students seek out their own history in pursuit of what their nation is all about.

Ask them to read Abigail Adams' letters to analyze how women's rights improved after the American Revolution. Let them create a skit about the lives of slave children based on books of the time. Have them find political cartoons of the late 19th century to examine intolerance of Catholic and Jewish immigrants.

That is the gist of the first proposed national standards for teaching history, a 271-page manual unveiled Oct. 26 after two years of work by an ethnically and racially diverse panel of teachers, scholars and civic leaders, led by the University of California at Los Angeles.

History Professor Gary Nash of UCLA called the effort "nothing less than a new American revolution in the teaching of history."

But he and his fellow panelists spoke too quickly when they praised it as a consensus on how to look at the past. In the United States, there never will be a consensus on how to look at the past.

Even before the proposed standards hit the streets, they became the latest bone of contention in the cultural and ideological dispute over the nation's identity and spirit.

A backlash by conservatives played out on the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal and the radio talk show circuit, demonstrated how those boring names and dates from the past play a significant role in Americans' ever-changing image of ourselves and where we go from here as a nation.

Led by Lynne Cheney, former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, conservatives argued that the proposal offered a distorted, "politically correct" view of the country. They said it ignored some of the great figures of U.S. history because they were white males and instead emphasized slavery, bigotry and other dark chapters of the nation's past.

In defense, the panelists said the standards encourage students to examine the often-ignored roles of women and minorities in history.

In any event, they emphasized, the standards were intended as voluntary guidelines, and teachers and textbook writers would decide whom to include in their lesson plans.

The result was less a debate over how effective the new standards would be in inspiring schoolchildren and more an exchange of angry accusations about hidden political agendas.

So the proposed standards' first lesson was one of politics rather than history. But that should have come as no surprise, because the task of making history is politics.

"History is used to invent a nation, to tell you your identity, and here we have always had multiple identities," said William McNeill, a retired University of Chicago history professor who helped draft the standards. "This controversy over American history is not new, but there are more voices out there, and each is demanding a place in the sun."

Adding to the controversy, the notion of national learning standards long has run counter to Americans' belief that education decisions should be left in the hands of state and local school officials.

Ironically, the decision to draw up standards for what fifth through 12th graders should know about history originated in part with none other than Lynne Cheney when she served in the Bush administration.

In 1992, after widespread praise from educators for newly published national standards for teaching mathematics, art and geography, Cheney approved a grant of $525,000 for the history project. The Education Department added a second grant of $865,000.

The project was awarded to UCLA's National Center for History in the Schools, which set up a council to draft the standards. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Goals in Study of U.S. History Light Firestorm
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.