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6/22/2005

History

Not knowing history is worse than ignorance of math, literature or almost anything else. Ignorance of history is undermining Western society's ability to talk straight and think straight. Parents must attack the problem by teaching their own children the facts. Only fools would rely on the schools.
david gelernter, la times
Gelernter is writing about US history but exactly the same thing can be written about Canadian schools.

When the Liberals decided to ignore a confidence vote for nine days until they could lure Ms. Stonach across the floor virtually no Canadians had a clue that Dithers and crew were dumping 800 years of constitutional history down the memory hole. They didn't know because no one had taught them even the rudiments of constitutional history.

The jolly picture of the poor, disposessed Haida and other aboriginal groups as Canada's original owners and people who somehow were closer to nature than the Europeans who arrived in North America, completely ignores the slaveholding, the wars and the sheer brutality of these people. Collective white guilt overwhelms any objective appraisal of the nature of the culture North American Indians created. (Here's a hint - the praries were simply burned over deliberately once in a while to keep them open for the buffalo. Human sacrifice was commonplace with many tribes and civilizations.) History is subsumed to whatever ideological agenda is driving the school system this particular decade.

Gelernter's plea to parents to teach their kids history is important; but, in a sense, a school system which has ceased to teach history objectively and well has really ceased to teach much of anything. If parents have to spend their time filling in the facts then why are they sending their kids to school in the first place?