Thursday, December 30, 2010

Things a Virginia Fourth Grader Needn't Know II

Remember back in October when that William & Mary history professor found that her fourth grader had a textbook that claimed that large numbers of black folks fought for the Confederacy, and that Stonewall Jackson led two black battalions, and I wrote a post about it?  Well, it looks like the Commonwealth decided to review their history texts, and the results are not pretty.

Check out this Washington Post article on the subject.  And I was surprised to find that one of the reviewers of the texts was my former history professor and undergraduate advisor from Hampden-Sydney, Dr. Ronald Heinemann.  When I read his comments, I could only imagine his face as he read error after error in those texts.  And I agree with Heinemann, that those texts should be removed and replaced as soon as may be.

And this raises the question of just how long has this been a problem?  How long have Virginia students been misinformed about American and Virginia history?  And most importantly, why didn't the teachers say something first?  All of this jumped off because a parent, who happened to be an historian, bothered to look closely at her child's text book.

I think that it is a shame that I feel that I now feel privileged to have studied American history formally for several years.  It's a shame, because the basic facts of American history should never be in dispute (unless new evidence emerges that corrects the record).  And if there is one thing our current political discourse has shown me, it is that too many Americans are ignorant of our history.  Too many avoid the parts that they don't like (or pretend that they weren't really that bad), or they just make shit up factually. 

But there was always the expectation that students' textbooks would be as accurate as possible.  At least they are now trying to work on that in Virginia.


Christopher S. Ledbetter said...

Amen brother! And good for Virginia... even if they needed someone from the outside to notice it. At least they didn't fight it or sweep it under the rug.

Anonymous said...

No Virginia, there isn't a Santa Claus.