Don’t believe everything you hear.
Some people have a tendency to be credulous. In fact, I would say a majority of people believe what they are told. Sadly, at the moment, history isn’t taught very well in American schools (the same goes for many subjects of course). I think I was taught very well during my school days, but that could very well be due to the fact that I drank up history and took in every tidbit I learned–with, of course, a healthy grain of salt. What can I say, I’m a realist; not a cynic, I hasten to say.
It’s important to note, though, that not all students take advanced history classes like I did, and fail what classes they do take. I don’t feel a healthy appreciation of history is taught. For those who wanted to learn, there was always the opportunity (it’s called a library). For those who don’t wish to learn, they hear stories about long-dead people (you know, dead white men). Or conversely, as happened throughout my AP US History textbook, there’s such an emphasis on the minorities that major events are overlooked. Let’s not stumble all over ourselves trying to teach these things when even the basic sequence of events isn’t mastered by many students.
I’ve always viewed history as one very long series of great stories, all of them interwoven in the most fascinating way. History is difficult to teach because it’s very hard to appreciate these tales and these connections without understanding the outline of events. This basis in both national and world history is crucially important to students today. Without it, it’s impossible to understand the beauty of history. It’s also impossible to understand our world today, because more than anything where we all stand now is a product of history. It is pure ignorance to say that the history is done and gone and has no relevance to today. It’s exactly the opposite. How can you understand race relations in America without understanding the Civil War and Reconstruction? How can you understand why there is still a monarchy in the United Kingdom if you don’t understand the Glorious Revolution as well as the role of Victoria Albert in redefining what monarchy is? There are many things in this world that I don’t entirely understand because I don’t have a firm grasp on the history. I find history supremely important, and I want to shake anyone who doesn’t see the light.
Although I’ve gone on a tangent, the point is that the onus is largely on ourselves to sift the wheat from the chaff. Children are taught certain parts of history in a way that appeals to them. The stories might not be entirely true, but they stick in the head. Sometimes these little stories blow up and become myths.
All of which is my way to lead into a link given to my by Corinne Smith to a blog entry at General Studies Degree. It’s about Ten Myths We Learn in History Class. Take a read–and of course, think for yourself and learn the facts for yourself!
By the way, my favorite is Nero fiddling while Rome burned. I have definitely brought that up many times (of course to impress people with my superior knowledge). How can someone fiddle if the fiddle hadn’t been invented yet?