“Denmark has figured out how to teach kids empathy and make them happier adults” — Quartz

Empathy, or the ability to read another person’s emotions, is a critical life skill. Many fear children are losing it—and that they’ll be less happy as adults as a result. A University of Michigan study of nearly 14,000 college students found that students today have about 40% less empathy than college kids had in the…

via Denmark has figured out how to teach kids empathy and make them happier adults — Quartz

“Don’t study history, Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton tells students”

The Lt. Governor’s comments are short-sighted and ignorant. Students, of course, should choose their careers carefully, but telling students to make that choice based solely on the likelihood of getting a job is irresponsible. The future job market is not always predictable.  The prospects for engineering students may look good at the moment, but by the time the students graduate things may look very different.

Students also need to consider their commitment to a career that they may not like or may not be suited to their talents. I have had many students who have returned to college because they hated their jobs (many of them engineers). They had returned to college to do what they actually loved, even though it meant they would have to live with a significantly smaller pay check. Money isn’t everything.

And just because it is difficult to get an academic job in history at this moment it doesn’t mean that there are no jobs or that the market won’t change. We still need historians. There are also many non-academic jobs for those with history degrees. History majors are often desirable employees because of their analytic skills and their informed perspective on the world.

More importantly, she should be encouraging all students, not just history majors, to study history. We desperately need an educated population!

Source: Don’t study history, Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton tells students

Who’s Responsible for the Demise of America’s Public Research Universities? – The Atlantic

Jonathan R. Cole accurately calls out the main driver of this “demise”: “The withdrawal of state funds is often one of the direct causes of increased college tuition—not necessarily an increase in faculty size, spending on construction, or administrative costs.”

It is an unfortunate situation that affects all of us. As Cole points out, “A type of delusional thinking seems to convince American policymakers that excellent public colleges and universities can continue to be great without serious investment. As the former Secretary of State and Stanford University provost Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein, the former New York City schools chancellor, wrote in a Council of Foreign Relations report, higher-education investments are a form of national security at least as important as direct investments in bombers, military drones, missiles, or warships. In other words, these education investments have a very high payoff for states, the nation, and the larger world.”

Read the entire article here: Who’s Responsible for the Demise of America’s Public Research Universities? – The Atlantic

Ron Briley: I’ve Taught History for 40 Years. I’m Alarmed.” | History News Network

I share the same concerns as Ron Briley. He is rightly troubled by the side lining of history in favor of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) courses. He notes, “This view of higher education as simply providing the basis for job placement within a technological society may be understandable in light of the student loan debt burden, but it is shortsighted and fails to address the larger goals of a college education.”

A knowledge of history in all its complexities remains vital to the health of our democracy. History is more than names and dates. It helps us make sense of the world around us. It teaches us humility as we struggle to understand the complexities of human nature and the world. It shakes us from our simplistic worldview so that we can better address the problems of the world. It offers lessons and warnings if we are willing to learn from it. It forces us to see the world from different perspectives. And, of course, it offers us great stories. We should resist the transformation of education into a job training program. We are human beings not worker bots!

Read the entire article here: History News Network | I’ve Taught History for 40 Years. I’m Alarmed.

“Should We Really Turn College Education over to the Free Market?” | History News Network

This idea that higher education should be driven by free market forces is gaining traction. And it has already had a detrimental impact on the quality of education as students and society at large value “job training” over a real education that prepares them to think critically and more broadly about the world.

The idea that institutions of higher education are and should be run like businesses is appealing . However, few Americans have really thought through the implications of this model of higher learning. As Paul J. Croce explains “education is more than a good-fitting pair of shoes; it can be a walk with towering and challenging ideas that can awaken to a mental map for understanding the world around us. Education can rouse us to support the world’s goodness and beauty, and also to tackle its problems, including those generated by the power of entrenched officeholders and the appeal of marketplace conventions.”



Read Croce entire argument here: History News Network | Should We Really Turn College Education over to the Free Market?

“Anti-Gay, Pro-Creationism Birther Could Change America’s Textbooks” – The Daily Beast

Mary Lou Bruner, who is likely to win a seat on the Texas School Board, “believes the Civil War was not caused by slavery, Barack Obama is a former gay Arab prostitute, and gays are abominations.” Her views get even crazier (see article)!

First: Where do they find these people?!!

Second: This is further evidence that school boards should not have any say concerning school curriculum or textbooks!

Read the entire article here: Anti-Gay, Pro-Creationism Birther Could Change America’s Textbooks – The Daily Beast

AP U.S. History Update: “Why Oklahoma Lawmakers Want to Ban AP US History” — NYMag

The battle against the AP U.S. History framework continues. Oklahoma and Georgia conservatives are trying to get their way by defunding the program.  They claim the test “emphasizes ‘what is bad about America’ and doesn’t teach ‘American exceptionalism.'”

In other words, they don’t want students to learn history, they want to indoctrinate students in a patriotic vision of U.S. history that ignores all past wrongs. Our future depends on having citizens who can make informed decisions. They cannot do this if they are taught a one-sided, triumphal version of history. We are currently paying the price for the ignorance of a sizable portion of our citizenry. If we want to keep our democracy and create a better future, we need a historically literate population. Let’s hope the efforts in Oklahoma and Georgia fail!

Source: Why Oklahoma Lawmakers Want to Ban AP US History — NYMag

“The Surprising Reaction I Got When I Assigned Barbara Tuchman’s Popular History of World War 1 to College Students” | History News Network

I share B. C. Knowlton’s concerns about teaching college students to really read and understand works of history.  He first taught a group of students who needed remedial help in reading and writing. For them, the popular The Guns of August was too difficult. With some help they were able to get through the material but in the end he could not get them to a level of critically thinking about the subject and its significance. The other group of good students were able to read and write well, but they also seemed unmotivated to engage with works of history (or any other readings of substance) on any sustained level beyond their required courses.

His experience with these students led him to wonder whether or not “those who take required History courses as college freshmen become and remain literate and critical students of History? Once there are no more papers to write, will they see any reason to read? How, as they head into the future, will they engage with the past? When historic anniversaries approach, will they pay historical attention to them, or just watch the documentaries?”
Given the lack of interest in anything not related to their majors or future careers (at least in my experience), I’m guessing that they will “just watch the documentaries” (if even that!). But I always hope that as they mature they will change their minds.


Source: History News Network | The Surprising Reaction I Got When I Assigned Barbara Tuchman’s Popular History of World War 1 to College Students

“Harvard Business School’s Case-Study Method Is Inspiring History Education Reform” – The Atlantic

“One professor is borrowing a method from Harvard Business School to teach students about America’s past and inspire better judgment for the future.”

Using the case method to teach history, as David Moss is doing at Harvard, is a creative way to engage students. But it’s not as revolutionary as this article makes it out to be. History teachers have used similar methods to engage students for a long time.

Good history teachers are always engaged in the delicate balancing act between content and skills. Unfortunately, the current testing craze has forced many k-12 educators to focus almost exclusively on content, which means teaching by rote memorization. This is unfortunate because what we really need are students who can think critically and who are passionate about learning.

Source: Harvard Business School’s Case-Study Method Is Inspiring History Education Reform – The Atlantic

“A Harvard Medical School professor makes the case for the liberal arts and philosophy” – The Washington Post

“David Silbersweig, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, says today’s multidisciplinary world needs liberal arts — and philosophy in particular — more than ever.” Silberweig is right. Unfortunately, just as we desperately need the skills and knowledge that comes from studying the humanities, politicians and business leaders are devaluing these fields. As a result, students view their humanities courses as an unnecessary obstacle in pursuit of their careers, and student disinterest then provides the justification for defunding these fields.

As a successful medical scientist who studied philosophy in college, Silbersweig is the perfect advocate for the liberal arts. He attributes his diverse educational background with his success. He notes, “I discovered that those without a liberal arts foundation, while often brilliant, generally had a narrower perspective. Their path to and through outstanding universities was more vocational.”

He argues that “[i]f we are to remain at the forefront of knowledge creation in this changing, globalizing world, then our students must be the next generation of explorers. We have a sacred obligation as educators, role models and mentors to ensure a system that promotes the attributes conducive to their success. A broad yet rigorous education will best equip them to go forth into uncharted territory to address issues of import to humanity in a creative fashion.”

“We need to foster and protect academic environments in which a broad, integrated, yet still deep education can flourish. They are our national treasure and a strategic asset, whether some politicians would recognize that, or not — and philosophy is foundational, whether my old dentist would appreciate it or not.”

Read the entire article here: A Harvard Medical School professor makes the case for the liberal arts and philosophy – The Washington Post