Sherburne History Center

Sherburne History Center
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Some Good News For Minnesota History

The Mpls./St. Paul Star Tribune published an interesting article on-line that suggests Minnesota students are generally well informed about American History.  Coming from a teaching background in Georgia, this is great news.

According to the article, teachers and student evaluators in Minnesota give students high marks for knowing the basics of U. S. History.  Unfortunately they lack depth in their understanding.  Students know who Thomas Jefferson was, that Richard Nixon resigned the Presidency in disgrace, and the basics of World War II.  Unfortunately, they don’t necessarily understand Watergate or appreciate the relationship between Jefferson and Sally Hemings. 

This is a big deal.  I once taught U. S. History at a university in Georgia where students didn’t know who won World War II!!  It sounds like Minnesota is doing well to teach their children their history.  Nationwide the news is not so good.  A report quoted in the article notes that only 12 percent of 12th grade students, nationwide, are “proficient or better” in history.  Anecdotal evidence puts Minnesota higher than that.

So, Minnesota students receive high marks.  Yet, we can’t let the emphasis on Math and Science take away from teaching history.  The phrase “well rounded education” exists for a reason.  We need to make everyone who is involved in the education system realize that allowing history to take a back seat to other subjects is not an acceptable alternative.

We are doing okay, but we must do better.

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