Saturday, March 15, 2008

Obama's Education Priorities

Just a short right now from Breitbart:

[Obama] said schools should do a better job of teaching all students African-American history "because that's part of American history," as well as women's struggle for equality, the history of unions, the role of Hispanics in U.S. and other matters that he suggested aren't given enough attention.

"I want us to have a broad-based history" taught in schools, he said, even including more on "the Holocaust as well as other issues of oppression" around the world.

Actually, I think that I'm covered. My history classes in high school might as well have been named "Slavery and the Holocaust" practically the only two subjects covered. Obama's right on one major point, though. I'd love to have learned more about African-American history from other perspectives than slavery. I never learned about Frederick Douglass, George Washington Carver or Scott Joplin in school, because the teachers were too busy reiterating the slavery curriculum (which focused mainly on the political tug-of-war of white politicians on the issue anyway).

We never learned enough about Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X or Ruby Bridges to get any sort of context of the battle for civil rights going on at the time. As a planner of school scurriculum, I would have trouble not devoting substantial time to slavery and the Holocaust, as both of the topics stand as terrible recent practices or events. Context sticks with kids, though. Reading Elie Wiesel's Night did more to help me to understand the Holocaust than all of the textbooks on the subject I read growing up. I don't think the curriculum needs to be expanded but merely refocused.

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