Our Historical I.Q.

by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Birthplace of Independent Conservatism
Liberty -vs- Tyranny

Not to pat myself on the back but I have been saying for the last forty years to anyone who will listen that history is important. The knowledge and understanding of history is critically important if a society is to preserve its culture and heritage..

Back in the early 70's when I was in college I recall a competent history teacher telling me of the efforts {even at that time} to revise actual historical fact. He called it revisionist history and he told me there was a definite cultural and ideological force behind it.

As I recall he said it was the march of the progressive movement.

Whatever it may be David McCullough's article in the WSJ is spot on.

'We're raising young people who are, by and large, historically illiterate," David McCullough tells me on a recent afternoon in a quiet meeting room at the Boston Public Library. Having lectured at more than 100 colleges and universities over the past 25 years, he says, "I know how much these young people—even at the most esteemed institutions of higher learning—don't know." Slowly, he shakes his head in dismay. "It's shocking."

He's right. This week, the Department of Education released the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress, which found that only 12% of high-school seniors have a firm grasp of our nation's history. And consider: Just 2% of those students understand the significance of Brown v. Board of Education.

Mr. McCullough began worrying about the history gap some 20 years ago, when a college sophomore approached him after an appearance at "a very good university in the Midwest." She thanked him for coming and admitted, "Until I heard your talk this morning, I never realized the original 13 colonies were all on the East Coast." Remembering the incident, Mr. McCullough's snow-white eyebrows curl in pain. "I thought, 'What have we been doing so wrong that this obviously bright young woman could get this far and not know that?'"

Answer: We've been teaching history poorly. And Mr. McCullough wants us to amend our ways.

The 77-year-old author has been doing his part—he's written nine books over the last four decades, including his most recent, "The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris," a story of young Americans who studied in a culturally dominant France in the 19th century to perfect their talents. He's won two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Book Awards and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award.

"History is a source of strength," he says. "It sets higher standards for all of us." But helping to ensure that the next generation measures up, he says, will be a daunting task.

One problem is personnel. "People who come out of college with a degree in education and not a degree in a subject are severely handicapped in their capacity to teach effectively," Mr. McCullough argues. "Because they're often assigned to teach subjects about which they know little or nothing." The great teachers love what they're teaching, he says, and "you can't love something you don't know anymore than you can love someone you don't know."

Another problem is method. "History is often taught in categories—women's history, African American history, environmental history—so that many of the students have no sense of chronology. They have no idea what followed what."

What's more, many textbooks have become "so politically correct as to be comic. Very minor characters that are currently fashionable are given considerable space, whereas people of major consequence farther back"—such as, say, Thomas Edison—"are given very little space or none at all." {Continue Reading}

Perhaps the problem is revisionist history, perhaps it is the issue of political correctness, or maybe it is that the teaching of history has become to compartmentalized and lacks historical continuity. Or perhaps a combination of all three.

Whatever it is it is not good for the nation and it will eventually result in the collapse of our cultural heritage.


Perhaps this is the progressive dream come true.

Cross posted to Rational Nation USA

Via: Memeorandum

Editor's Note: The video incorrectly referenced Thomas Jefferson as our 2'nd president. In fact Johns Adams was our 2'nd president. Thomas Jefferson was our 3'rd president.


  1. I feel this is a current and relevant subject! If more people knew our constitution and founding principals, they could appreciate Ron Paul's message. He only seems like the crazy uncle because the have been dumbed down!

  2. Unfortunately, and due to the progressive mentality, the majority of this nation is asleep on this issue. Having bought the bill of goods sold them by government progressive and politically correct education system.

  3. This dovetails very nicely with my post on how we have failed this generation. Actually we have been failing for a couple.


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