Every year studies show that we Americans know very little about history. We fail to identify many famous figures from our past, like Benedict Arnold, Ben Franklin and even George Washington. But what is the root cause of this? Is it our culture and our complete obsession with movies and video games? Or is there something broken in our education system that doesn’t allow students to retain these facts as adults?
We are a lazy society. People don’t read for knowledge about history as much as they do to find out who Madonna is having an affair with and the latest sports scores. I know that history is taught in our schools and our kids learn about Benedict Arnold, Ben Franklin and George Washington. So why can’t they remember them?
I don’t just want to use the excuses that we are lazy, dumb and preoccupied with other things. I fear our education system isn’t changing with the times to meet the needs of the students. If kids are obsessed with movies, then teachers should be drawing them in with movies. If they can’t focus on lectures, than teachers need to role-play and have them act out scenes from history—make them remember in a way that will stick. If you expect to teach kids today the way they did in the 1950s, it won’t be effective. In order to make what they learned in class effective, children need to read and talk about it at home, which probably is the crux of the problem. Not many family dialogues focus on history or even current events.
I am not out to blame only teachers and parents, but I know American kids aren’t learning like they should be. So what are we to do?