“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

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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.

TV Weekly Now | NGC Premieres Two-night Movie Event “Saints & Strangers,” a Story that goes beyond the Historical Account of Thanksgiving

“Goes beyond the historical account of Thanksgiving & the founding of Plymouth Plantation, revealing the trials and tribulations of the settlers at Plymouth: 102 men, women & children who sailed on a chartered ship for a place they had never seen.”

I don’t get the National Geographic Channel but this looks good. For those of you who do, it premieres Nov. 22.

Source: TV Weekly Now | NGC Premieres Two-night Movie Event “Saints & Strangers,” a Story that goes beyond the Historical Account of Thanksgiving

Texas officials: Schools should teach that slavery was ‘side issue’ to Civil War – The Washington Post

“Five million public school students in Texas will begin using new social studies textbooks this fall based on state academic standards that barely address racial segregation. The state’s guidelines for teaching American history also do not mention the Ku Klux Klan or Jim Crow laws. And when it comes to the Civil War, children are supposed to learn that the conflict was caused by ‘sectionalism, states’ rights and slavery’ — written deliberately in that order to telegraph slavery’s secondary role in driving the conflict, according to some members of the state board of education.” This is what happens when politically motivated Schools Boards determine what children will learn. You may recall the kerfuffle over the Texas state curriculum standards in 2010 and the textbooks in 2014 that led to this version of the Civil War appearing in Texas social studies textbooks. (see previous posts on this subject here and here)

The belief that the Civil War was about states’ rights not slavery might be comforting to some, but that feeling comes at the cost of truth, justice, progress, and everything we hold dear as a nation. How can students understand the present if they have been mislead about the past?

Texas officials: Schools should teach that slavery was ‘side issue’ to Civil War – The Washington Post.

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Privatizing History | Patrick Stephenson

“An academic view of history that at least tries to be objective is a bit like a public good. We don’t all pay for it. But we all benefit from it. Because a basic grasp of history is, in my view, the foundation of critical thinking and democratic governance. But if history is a public good, we’re witnessing its privatization. The past has become a commodity that can be manufactured, packaged and sold to audiences eager to hear a good story that justifies their policies and their prejudices.” Wise words from Patrick Stephenson. Will we listen?

Read his article here:

Privatizing History | Patrick Stephenson.

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Did 1995 Change Everything? – The New Yorker

What is the “one-dot theory” of history? In his review of W. Joseph Campbell’s 1995: The Year the Future Began, Louis Menand explains that “the most enjoyable histories to read (and, probably, to write) are ‘the x that changed the world’ books. These are essentially one-dot explanations. They try to make the course of human events turn on a single phenomenon or a single year.” While enjoyable, he rightly points out that these narratives are “not completely persuasive” in convincing us that history has turned on this “x” (in this case: 1995). History is vastly complex and “all dots have dots of their own.”

But for all the flaws of “one-dot theories” they can be informative and entertaining. On that note, Menard’s review of 1995 was favorable. For me personally 1995 was a traumatic year and I’d rather forget it. But looking beyond my own troubles I can see that many events of note happened that year that are worthy of our attention, even if they are unpleasant.

We tend to look to the 1990s as a good decade, but a review of the history says otherwise: the Oklahoma City bombing, the O.J. Simpson trial, genocide in Rwanda and Bosnia, the siege in Waco, Black Hawk down in Somalia, etc.

To read Menand’s entire review go here:

Did 1995 Change Everything? – The New Yorker.

The New Yorker: O. J. Simpson, Monica Lewinsky, Timothy McVeigh—seeds of the present?Credit Illustration by Concepción Studios; Clockwise from top: Michael Nelson / AFP / Getty (Simpson); Reuters / CORBIS (McVeigh); Barbara Laing / The LIFE Images Collection / Getty (Building); APTV / AP (Lewinsky)

The New Yorker: O. J. Simpson, Monica Lewinsky, Timothy McVeigh—seeds of the present? Credit Illustration by Concepción Studios; Clockwise from top: Michael Nelson / AFP / Getty (Simpson); Reuters / CORBIS (McVeigh); Barbara Laing / The LIFE Images Collection / Getty (Building); APTV / AP (Lewinsky)