By Jordan Adams for RealClearPublicAffairs
Across the political spectrum, Americans recognize the importance not only of school choice, but of what students actually learn in schools. Elected representatives eventually also took note. In Michigan, the state legislature proposed two accounts which seeks to address how American history and civilians are taught.
Some, unfortunately, want teachers to tell students that they need to understand American history, primarily by looking for racism, injustice, and oppression. The phrase “critical racial theory” (CRT) has been used primarily in academia to describe this filter on history and civic education.
However, this pedagogical method is inaccurate and overlooked. Such a view can lead to actual racism and revenge to correct the real or perceived injustice of the past. In this view, two wrongs do make a right.
Objection to critical racial theory in education is an important moment. Policymakers who face what amounts to dishonest and racist teaching show enthusiasm and courage. As millions of American parents have said, these policymakers are worthy of praise.
But just to oppose something is not enough, not for the education of millions of students, and especially not for political support. One has to offer an alternative – one that is attractive because it is true and good.
So, what should K-12 American students learn about their country?
First, the answer should not be to swing to the other extreme by learning a hagiographic version of American history that hides all the flaws of the country. Fortunately, this is a mistake that the bills in the Michigan legislature have so far wisely avoided.
Support conservative voices!
Sign in to receive the latest political news, insights and comments delivered directly to your inbox.
Of course, if time and resources were endless, students would learn every detailed truth about their country. But with only thirteen years of schooling, this means that difficult decisions have to be made about what to include and what to exclude in the curriculum.
Currently, many schools contain only the failures of America while erasing its successes. It distorts the truth about American history. Righteous people may realize that a politicized lens is not appropriate because it places lies on students’ hearts and minds.
Let us rather ask, ‘What ideas in American history and civil society have shaped the world of the student the most?’
The list of answers is impressive and balanced – balanced because it tells the truth about historical events.
Students should learn that America was founded as the first country in history based on an idea: the idea that every human being is equal in their dignity, humanity, and possession of natural rights; that the government exists only to protect these rights; and that people should govern themselves while respecting the rights of others.
They must learn that the degrees of freedom, peace, and prosperity found in America, measured by almost any standard, are unprecedented in the annals of world history. If they realize this, they should study the documents responsible for these achievements thoroughly.
And they need to learn about the famous figures and the millions of ordinary Americans who made great sacrifices to defend the ideas and institutions that made it possible.
Although students need to learn that humans are capable of being good, they also need to understand that human nature is still limited, flawed, and prone to doing what is wrong.
Indeed, students should also learn about the practice of slavery, the founders’ views on slavery, the Civil War, reconstruction, Jim Crow, segregation, the Tulsa massacre in 1921, the civil rights movement, and the efforts and achievements of Americans of all races and genders. , as they were aimed at the truth of America’s fundamentals.
This is not a one or a thing. All the tragedies and triumphs, the bad and the good, the warts and the beauty of American history – all of these things have shaped our world significantly and all deserve to be taught. Teachers should ask questions from every angle of a historical controversy and present the best argument from each side, where possible the historical figures’ own words.
Instead of painting in broad brush strokes, students should focus on the specific words and actions of specific individuals.
Constitutional bodies have a responsibility to ensure that American students learn history that is free of distorted political lenses and cherry-picked facts. The prohibition on texts and lessons that promote the theory of critical race is an important part of the fulfillment of this obligation. But that does not mean we should move the curriculum to the other extreme and ignore America’s failures.
Only by listening to the truth can we heal and unite America.
Jordan Adams is the civic education specialist at Hillsdale College K-12 Education. He advises on civic education reform, teaches history and civic education across the country, and leads the development of The Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum.
Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.
The opinions expressed by contributors and / or content partners are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Political Insider.