Friday, September 11, 2009

Not everything is about politics

This article from today's Globe about the difficulties Massachusetts school teachers are having in deciding how to 'teach' the subject of the 9/11 attacks puts a knot in my gut. The 14 year old girl, a freshman in high school, who is unsure who perpetrated those attacks ("I forgot - the Muslims or someone") is bad enough. But with the guidance our state education bureaucrats provide to teachers on this topic, this particular young lady can hardly be blamed for her ignorance. From the Globe:
State curriculum guidelines offer little input. The only reference to 9/11 is made in US History II, which is typically taught in 10th or 11th grade. The guidelines suggest that teachers ask students to analyze America’s response to the terrorist attacks as part of a broader discussion of the consequences of the United States’ recent diplomatic initiatives.
So according to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, public school students ought not to be exposed to the seminal event of their young lives and a crucial event in recent US History until 10th or 11th grade, and then only as part of "a broader discussion of the consequences of the United States' recent diplomatic initiatives." The context into which 9/11 is placed is itself profoundly wrong-headed and offensive, implying with little subtlety that the 9/11 attacks were themselves a "consequence" of U.S. behavior. This is a favorite trope on the loony left. A trope - and tripe. That this twisted worldview forms the basis of official state guidance to public school teachers on the topic of 9/11 is deeply troubling - and it perfectly explains the appalling ignorance expressed by the 14-year-old girl quoted above.

Our schools do not ignore the horrors of slavery in teaching the Civil War. They do not brush past the evil of the Third Reich in teaching World War II. It is only as we approach recent history, lived by the blame-America-first crowd, that the historical air brush is deployed with greater and greater vigor. Vietnam becomes a story first of American hubris and imperialism. 9/11, the worst attack on our soil in history, a cold-blooded massacre by Islamic extremists of thousands of innocents, becomes the "consequence" of a diplomatic failure. Iraq is reduced to a bumper sticker (the one that ends "people died.").

I am hopeful that as the Woodstock generation passes into retirement, cooler ideological heads will assume their positions of influence in the vast education bureaucracy that shapes the curriculum offered to our public school students. It is possible that, as people who came of age around the turn of the millennium and experienced 9/11 not as a moment of deserved retribution but rather as it truly was - an unprovoked, deadly attack on thousands of innocent civilians - nonsense like "part of a broader discussion of the consequences of the United States’ recent diplomatic initiatives" will be purged by our schools and U.S. history once again taught as history, not as ideology or politics.

Until then, a generation of kids will have to get their facts elsewhere, as their classrooms are given over to moral relevance and historical revisionism.

On the other hand, there is this.

1 comment:

  1. The part of the article that talks about kids thinking it was a big conspiracy was particularly chilling. Apparently Meira Levinson ("how the country responded, the extent that it was used as a justification for the war in Iraq") kinda sorta agrees with these ideas. But she's at the Grad school for Education. No big shock there. But it is scary to me that there are children out there walking around believing that their government perpetrated this atrocity on its own people. Think of the deep cynicism this thought engenders. How do you come back from that? How do you become a participating member of our civil culture if you believe the President murdered 3,000 Americans?

    If anything, the school system needs to get on with teaching the facts just to crowd out the paranoid fantasies.


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