Wednesday, May 03, 2006

What On Earth...?

Georgia History Professor James Cobb relates the following story:
After 34 years of college teaching, I thought I had heard just about every imaginable student complaint. Last week, however, a freshman in my 300-seat US History Since 1865 course came in to discuss her exam with one of the graders and proceeded to work herself into a semi-hissy over the fact that we had spent four class periods(one of them consisting of a visit from Taylor Branch) discussing the civil rights movement.

"I don't know where he's getting all of this," she complained, "we never discussed any of this in high school." One might have let the matter rest here as simply an example of a high school history teacher's sins of omission being visited on the hapless old history prof. had the student not informed the TA in an indignant postscript, "I'm not a Democrat! I don't think I should have to listen to this stuff!"

I don't even know what that complaint is supposed to mean. What exactly did you learn in high school history? Never mind, I probably don't want to know.

I might, in the humblest way possible, suggest that a through grounding in the successes and failures of the American civil rights movement is something that Americans of all political persuasions might benefit from.

H/T: Eric Muller


Anonymous said...

Ah, but to appreciate the history of the civil rights movement requires an underlying understanding of ethics and political philosophy and civic responsibility in a democracy.

It would appear your student lacks those as well.

Where do you even start....


pacatrue said...

I don't think it too unusual to not get too much in high school about the civil rights movement. I don't personally remember learning much about anything after WWII. That part doesn't surprise me, but the idea that civil rights history is one political party's topic is rather silly, at best, if not actually frightening.