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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:00 am 
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Drunk Dialed Ian MacKaye
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Probably an even further derail, but I wanted to thank you all, actually, for helping me confront my own privilege over the years that I've been involved with these forums. I can vaguely recall Pandacookie and Erika calling me on my assumptions from time to time, and regardless of whether I was receptive to those criticisms at the time, I definitely appreciate them in retrospect.

More on topic, ever since this thread started -- and I've been following it from the start, even though my schedule these days doesn't allow me much time to participate -- I've been thinking about an incident when I was sixteen or so that, honestly, to this day, I can't talk about without getting angry and tearful. And the irony is that the actual victim of the incident probably doesn't even recall that it ever occurred, because to him, it was probably a fairly everyday occurrence.

So I was in high school, in a crappy garage band, and there was this guy that lived in the neighborhood, a friend who would come over and play with us from time to time. He was brilliantly talented, the kind of guy who could pick up an instrument that he had never touched before and coax sounds out of it that would take the rest of us months of practice. And he easily could have lorded his talent over the rest of us, but he never did, just a sweet, sensitive, humble guy. Turns out, he was an acclaimed skateboarder – something I didn't realize until I later saw a copy of Thrasher at the public library with him on the cover – but he never said a single word about it, just a guy hanging out with us bunch of disaffected suburbanite dorks.

One day, he came over to where we were practicing, and he was was visible upset. The cops has stopped him, suggested he might be concealing a weapon because his pant leg was rolled up. He had been riding a bike, and he had rolled up his pant leg, as you do, to avoid having it caught in the chain. But they frisked him, harassed him, delayed him for no other conceivable reason than his riding a bike while black in a mostly white neighborhood.

Now, keep in mind I don't think this incident would have been any more justified had he been a talentless crasshole instead. But the way I was brought up, the assumption was that most people who got harassed by police, who got “racially profiled,” were probably up to no good anyway. No cop would really single out a respectable black man, only gang-bangers and thugs, right? That this guy would have been singled out destroyed all those assumptions.

Anyway, not to belabor the point, but that was probably my first major epiphany regarding race and privilege. Granted, it took years to fully settle in, but it's still pretty unforgettable...

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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:24 am 
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I grew up in a neighborhood where if cops were around, it generally wasn't a 'good' thing. I think our schools tried to do things to make kids understand that cops aren't bad but despite that I have no worries due to the color of my skin, I still cringe or tighten up a little whenever I see a cop. I mean, I don't know, maybe most people do and it is just a normal response.

They don't do it anymore, I don't think, but I think the most traumatic thing of all I saw growing up was the INS vans cruising the neighborhoods. Sometimes you wouldn't see them stop people but generally people would announce if they saw a van and people would get inside. A few times though, I saw them chase down groups of guys and just load them in the van. It was always a horrifying thing to see.

Anyway, I think that frisking down young teens/men and such doesn't contribute to trust and does create some instinctive distrust within communities and neighborhoods. I grew up in a neighborhood where crime was just part of the scenery so you'd expect to see cops on a semi regular basis but I don't know the answer between trying to keep neighborhoods safe and harassment.

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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:23 am 
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linanil wrote:
I have no worries due to the color of my skin, I still cringe or tighten up a little whenever I see a cop.


So true for me.

On another note I just thought of a good analogy
I was thinking of my own background and my own lack of self esteem so i mean this in best way to people who also had a bad home life.

For those who are discriminated for who they are e.g. colour, sexuality etc its like growing up in an unhealthy home, however instead of it being the home its the unhealthy society. This society due too discriminating creates massive emotional abuse for that person - not being comfortable in who they are, there's something wrong with them. Therefore creating low self esteem and so forth. being able to fit into what's accepted and can be who we are is a privilege, we are not being subjected to this continual abuse This fab documentary will highlighted it for me in a known experiment...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0qKDiq1fNw


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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 4:12 pm 
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I thought this report on how the different states teach the Civil Rights Movement was fascinating and really agree that those who determine what is taught to students, determine how they are going to see history and their own place in it.
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/04/0 ... s-movement

Quote:
Despite the national significance of the civil rights movement, many states continue to mistakenly see it as a regional matter or a topic of interest mainly for black students. Generally speaking, the report found that the farther from the South – and the smaller the African-American population – the less attention paid to the movement in schools.

The idea that "only blacks" should learn about the movement or are interested in it should be anathema to anyone who knows that civil rights history was forged out of coalitions between many racial/ethnic/religious groups, and is an essential and ongoing part of the American experience.

The report, "Teaching the Movement 2014: The State of Civil Rights Education in the United States," looks at and evaluates standards and curriculum resources connected to the study and teaching of the modern civil rights movement for the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
.....

This is not just about black history. Right-wing legislatures in states like Arizona have pushed back and banned books, attacking Mexican-American studies. By a vote of 3 to 2, in 2013 the school board in Tucson vote to un-ban books that had been prohibited.
Membership on these boards is key, and Teapublican activists have worked hard to put themselves in positions to whitewash and sterilize history and substitute religion for science in states across the U.S.

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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 2:27 am 
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We never got past WWII in any of my history classes; I don't know whether this was by accident or design. But I used to flip longingly through those pages in my history books and never studied anything more recent until my Soviet/Eastern European history classes in college.


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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 7:49 am 
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Not surprised that California got a B. Our school had a large black population and I know it was touched upon but I think the vietnam war was taught more extensively in terms of 'recent' history. And according to my grandparents, our city had segregation of some sorts up to the 50s that included blacks/Mexicans and our city has always had a large Mexican population. The Mexican segregation was never touched on.

Also, I don't know what other states have it but generally, California history is part of the curriculum, even as biased as it is. I don't know if that also squeezes out other history items.

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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:45 am 
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annak wrote:
We never got past WWII in any of my history classes; I don't know whether this was by accident or design. But I used to flip longingly through those pages in my history books and never studied anything more recent until my Soviet/Eastern European history classes in college.
This was my experience as well. The Cold War, Vietnam, the Civil Rights movement, all the various conflicts in the Middle East, the Northern Ireland "troubles": nothing. My son is in HS and he's currently studying Soviet Russia and will be moving on to Israel and Palestine afterwards, but he's in an IB program so I don't think that's typical.

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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:01 am 
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Desdemona wrote:
annak wrote:
We never got past WWII in any of my history classes; I don't know whether this was by accident or design. But I used to flip longingly through those pages in my history books and never studied anything more recent until my Soviet/Eastern European history classes in college.
This was my experience as well. The Cold War, Vietnam, the Civil Rights movement, all the various conflicts in the Middle East, the Northern Ireland "troubles": nothing. My son is in HS and he's currently studying Soviet Russia and will be moving on to Israel and Palestine afterwards, but he's in an IB program so I don't think that's typical.


I was in high school in the late 90's and we never went past WWII in history. We spent so much time on fur trading routes (I'm in Canada) and that sort of thing, but not very much that happened in the 20th century. It was really disappointing.

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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:26 am 
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I went to HS in the late 90s as well (class of 99), and we had one semester of post-WWII history. I remember learning a lot about the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. It was pretty US-centric, but we did also talked about a bit about apartheid in South Africa. It was definitely the most useful HS history class I had.

I also remember the first time I learned about the Civil Rights Movement -- it was in kindergarten, probably on MLK day. My teacher talked about segregation, and I started to cry because my best friend at the time, "K", was black, and I thought about how unfair it would have been if K and I couldn't have been friends.


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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:31 am 
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another nothing-post WWII. and nothing about Japanese-American internment, which made me very upset post 9/11 when that sort of idea was getting bandied about.
It makes me very troubled to think that, when we hear about not studying history making us apt to repeat it, some of the things that are really, really worth not repeating are not being studied. Seriously, I could have done without another semester on the Louisiana Purchase, which i swear we must have studied three times, or that interminable year about the establishment of the NJ state senate, to spend a semester talking about modern Native American history, or civil rights, or unionization... (thank god for Howard Zinn or I wouldn't have learned a damn thing at all)

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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:55 am 
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torque wrote:
It makes me very troubled to think that, when we hear about not studying history making us apt to repeat it, some of the things that are really, really worth not repeating are not being studied. Seriously, I could have done without another semester on the Louisiana Purchase, which i swear we must have studied three times, or that interminable year about the establishment of the NJ state senate, to spend a semester talking about modern Native American history, or civil rights, or unionization... (thank god for Howard Zinn or I wouldn't have learned a damn thing at all)
Absolutely all of this. As I recall we pretty much went over the same material (in increasing levels of detail) in the 5th, 8th, and 11th grades; how about fewer Civil War names and dates and more useful, contextualized, thought-provoking information about the ways ideas and policies have been put into action?

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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 11:44 am 
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My U.S. history call is high school didn't even make it to WWII!


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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:19 pm 
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torque wrote:
another nothing-post WWII. and nothing about Japanese-American internment, which made me very upset post 9/11 when that sort of idea was getting bandied about.
It makes me very troubled to think that, when we hear about not studying history making us apt to repeat it, some of the things that are really, really worth not repeating are not being studied. Seriously, I could have done without another semester on the Louisiana Purchase, which i swear we must have studied three times, or that interminable year about the establishment of the NJ state senate, to spend a semester talking about modern Native American history, or civil rights, or unionization... (thank god for Howard Zinn or I wouldn't have learned a damn thing at all)


We covered the Japanese-American internment because I think it was something that affected California especially.

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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:26 pm 
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My high school history teacher was really into Howard Zinnia so we learned a lot of material not usually covered in text books.

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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:26 pm 
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I am a few years older than most of you. I also never went past WWII in my public school history classes. At some point, I think someone was honest about it. They told me that there were people still alive and invested on various sides of things that came after WWII. The school system didn't want to send kids home talking about things that would freak parents out. I think that is also why philosophy and critical thinking is not taught in most public schools.

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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:56 pm 
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In 7th grade social studies (82/83 school year) we did an ongoing unit that covered, among other things, propaganda, the cold war and apartheid in South Africa. I don't recall the specifics, but the class was divided into two "societies" for the whole school year and we worked within our societies on critical thinking exercises about various topics that we were studying. When we were studying the Cold War, for example, our societies would be the Soviet Union and the US, for apartheid we weren't specifically black and white, but something like powerful minority and oppressed majority. I also remember some coverage of the Vietnam war in that class. Looking back, it might have set us up more for college level history classes than high school, which like most of you didn't have much coverage beyond WWII. We did term papers in 11th grade US History and each of us had to do a fairly lengthy oral presentation of our papers; that was where most of the coverage of post-WWII subjects came from. I know we talked about the civil rights movement in the US at various times, but it didn't go much deeper than "this is who MLK was, this is what Rosa Parks did, separate water fountains, isn't it great that it's not that way anymore..."

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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:39 pm 
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Tzippy wrote:
My U.S. history call is high school didn't even make it to WWII!


Yeah I don't remember learning anything about WWII in my Canadian HS.

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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:59 pm 
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We got a lot of Civil War and Viet Nam stuff in our high school history class, but that was mostly because the teacher (also our town's mayor) was a big military history buff, and if he was talking about something we thought was boring we could just ask something like "So how does this relate to US military doctrine during the war in Viet Nam?" and guarantee at least a 20-minute digression. It was pretty fun, actually.

We also didn't get much into 20th century history, though. Much of that ended up being taught by the English department in these sort of mid-level courses that had specific topics-- Swashbuckling, literature by women, Shakespeare's comedies, and so on, and Lit. of War (taught by my father, go figure. And mostly anti-war books and post-apocalyptic novels and stuff like that. I think he was cheerfully tricking uninformed pro-war kids into reading things like "Johnny Get Your Gun"). He talked more about the causes of 20th century warfare than our actual history class, although the history teacher sure would have if he'd gotten to it.

monkeytoes wrote:
I don't recall the specifics, but the class was divided into two "societies" for the whole school year and we worked within our societies on critical thinking exercises about various topics that we were studying. When we were studying the Cold War, for example, our societies would be the Soviet Union and the US, for apartheid we weren't specifically black and white, but something like powerful minority and oppressed majority.


This sounds pretty awesome!

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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 2:14 pm 
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Mars wrote:
Tzippy wrote:
My U.S. history call is high school didn't even make it to WWII!


Yeah I don't remember learning anything about WWII in my Canadian HS.


In my school's case, I really don't think it was because they thought WWII and beyond weren't important. When I took U.S. History, it was the first year that my school was on block scheduling (where classes were a semester long, rather than 2 semesters). I think a lot of teachers had trouble figuring out how to pace the lessons so that they had time to teach everything they intended to.


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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 2:22 pm 
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Mars wrote:
Tzippy wrote:
My U.S. history call is high school didn't even make it to WWII!


Yeah I don't remember learning anything about WWII in my Canadian HS.


Mine neither!

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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:51 pm 
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The problem of curriculum is tricker than it might appear. They keep adding crepe to it and never take anything out. For example, in earth science they added 4 topics and took one (very minor) topic out. We already cover way more than a college year long survey course, it's nuts. In chemistry, they added some organic last year but didn't take anything out.

I have no idea what is taught in all the history classes these days, but I do know that they continually feel the pinch, and state history gets a lot of focus. I did check the current history books we use in my state--they still talk about the "potato famine" as if people starved because the Irish were too stupid to grow something else or eat fish.

It is shocking that the civil rights movement isnt a major unit everywhere--anyone know if it is in the new common core?

The education community (ahem, politicians who ought to butt out) has done an extremely poor job of coming up with realistic curriculums. We can't teach forking everything, so stop trying to make us. An example, my curriculum includes students learning about the analemma. Don't know what that is? Don't worry--neither did I until I had to teach it. Somehow I bumbled through all my degree classes without ever needing to do more than note it in passing. Yet this is considered an important topic for Virginia 9th graders. I could use that time to talk about nuclear power instead (barely mentioned in our standards!).

We need a distilled list of few topics to cover in depth. Until that happens, there are going to be huge gaps. The Cold War is very glossed over as well. I'm shocked by how little my seniors know about that. When we talk about Sputnik, etc, they lack any frame of reference to understand why that was such a big deal.

If I have a chance tonight, I'll look through the common core and standards for US history in Virginia. I'm guessing that I'll find civil rights is to be covered to a good extent, but is just one of way too many topics to teach effectively. I'm not sure how you study modern US history without framing things aeound the civil rights movement though. That's like teaching plate tectonic theory without teaching the layers of the earth first.

Can you tell this issue irks me greatly? All research shows breadth over depth, yet nobody follows that research.

I told my mom about this and she said she learned about it in school in Ireland and segregation was one reason she didn't want to marry my dad and come to the US. She thought it was all too barbaric. My dad had his work cut out for him! (She was also engaged to someone else at the time and wanted the irritating American to leave her alone.)

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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:10 pm 
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I checked pacing guides: we are supposed to spend 4-5 class periods on the civil rights movement. This doesn't sound like a lot, but that is actually a fairly big unit.

My district adds a lot of content beyond the state, but I can guarantee that in practice almost nobody will cover stuff not on the state exams. Nobody has the time.

When I was in school, we covered it quite a bit, including a bunch of court cases. We did not have nearly as many topics to cover though as this was before state testing. Back then we still had geography classes too! This probably explains why my kids freaked when I asked them to label the Australian plate on a test. They didn't know where Australia was. Yes, really.

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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 6:51 am 
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Wow, how many hours of classes and how many hours of homework is the standard in the US? I think the standard for high school is 30-35 hours of classes a week + an hour or two of homework every day. There is 3 months of vacation a year, 2 months during the summer, 2 weeks around christmas and then 2 weeks spread out as holidays during the year.

This is an overlook on the mandatory courses in high school here:

History is the second biggest class here, and it has to cover the middle ages (with stories of the vikings as a reference), Martin Luther converting us from catholicism to lutheran, the renaissance (esp. the cultural development), the french revolution, the early european wars about land and power, colonialism, industrialism, first world war, the antebellum/time between the world wars, second world war, soviet and the cold war, the Israel/Palestine conflict, the fall of the berlin wall and apartheid.
In English class we have to learn about english history and american history, as well as how the US was founded (with focus on the religious reasons people emigrated), how the power structures have been developed, and some law cases, how Australia was founded and oppression of the natives in both The US and Australia.
Other language classes have similar requirements.
Then there are the mandatory social studies classes with a bunch of history and some economy and studies of the different political ideologies.
Mandatory religious studies require that you learn the history and foundation of Christianity, Islam and either Judaism, Buddhism, a tribal religion etc. + the big sociological and anthropological thinkers on the subject of religion.
Geography requires basic knowledge of the science but it also has to teach demography in a political, societal and historical context.
Danish is a literature class, but students have to read works from the middle ages and until now, which means that the classes need to be historical as well.
(Then of course there is math, chemistry, biology as mandatory classes, and students have to choose 3 non-mandatory classes, like higher levels of the mandatory classes, art classes, design classes, media production classes, music, philosophy etc.)

Is this very different from the US high school programs? I know that the teaching philosophies and the fact that we don't do mandatory tests but write assignments during the year etc. are quite different, but is the curriculum very different? I know that the political reasons for the curriculum is, that it's important for kids to learn the history in order to not make the same mistakes again, but also that it's important for students to have a high level of wide knowledge because it makes it easier to understand context etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 6:57 am 
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It is very different! I wish I had had a Danish education (especially for history), or even Polish or Dutch. I went to school in the SF Bay Area, and the curriculum didn't do enough of anything for me: not when I was a student and definitely not in retrospect. I even went to "a California distinguished school".

I finished high school in 2003. Like others, my curriculum never went past World War 2. We had a course on government/economics which was up to date, but it didn't address anything like the Vietnam/Korean Wars, Apartheid, etc. I have vague memories of civil rights discussions, but I'm not sure if those were in a literature or history class. And, like other Californians, we got a lot of Spanish vs. US history, with some information about Native Americans. (Less "we killed them off" and more "this is how they lived".)


eta: Removed the link to my school's webpage. smoothie, I'll message it to you.

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 Post subject: Re: Understanding Privilege
PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 7:09 am 
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Most of the Dutch people I went to (engineering) school with did not have a very strong history background. And the political science grad students my husband studied with didn't really have the math background to do well in statistics (he started out helping a couple students with it informally and by the end of the semester was teaching large tutoring sessions).

We did a huge unit on Apartheid in my third grade music class in the Midwestern US (go figure). It included writing letters to Congress, and in retrospect while I certainly agree Apartheid was awful, it seems like a huge overstep for the teacher to be encouraging us to write letters with a certain political stance as a class activity.

In general I think history classes in the US stopped too soon, but on the other hand there are also large periods and places that get ignored, especially nonwestern. One of the university classes I learned the most in was antebellum African American history (I didn't have a chance to take the second semester, which was Civil War->present). But that kind of specialty class isn't generally available before college.


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