Motivate students to embrace history

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History matters -- but to whom? Our state standardized test scores are a disgrace, adjusted curriculum or not. How can so many know so little? What are the roots of this disgrace for all CSRA school districts? How can we turn this humiliating lack of historical knowledge around?

Recently I was in Macon for the state National History Day competition. National History Day Inc. is a highly regarded academic organization for middle- and high-school students with a nationwide competition culminating in the national competition in Washington D.C. This program encourages students to explore history and its relevance to us today, not simply memorize facts for a test.

I was anxious to see how our local schools would fare at the state level -- but not one entry was from Columbia County! I met two very excited girls from Lincoln County who told me they were "carrying the banner for their county and school." With great enthusiasm they explained their project (a Web site) to me and explained how much fun they had creating it. Good for them and Lincoln County. Richmond County fared somewhat better than Columbia. I found in the program approximately had four students from Episcopal Day School at the state contest, six from Spirit Creek Middle School and three from Lincoln County Middle School. Where are the rest of our schools?

I have heard the excuses for this lack of participation, so please spare me the company line" about not enough time, teaching to the standardize test and other such balderdash. If 700,000 students nationwide can find the time to devote to this endeavor, why can't we? ...

We have all heard the clichà about understanding history or repeating it. That is not the point. We must understand history to understand ourselves and the way the world is today. If we don't understand history, we cannot solve any of our problems today or tomorrow. Let's get our history departments involved with NHD and see history come alive for our students. ...

Bill Speer, Harlem

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Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 05/29/08 - 03:33 am
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Local participation in The

Local participation in The Science Olympiad "rivals" that for NHD. Unacceptable! By the way, should anyone doubt Mr. Speer's assertion regarding level of knowledge in Social Studies, let me tell you: My granddaughter is a rising junior A/B honor roll student in the college prep program in a local high school but couldn't name the states she would travel through on her way to visit her uncle in Philly this Summer.

DeborahElliott2
4
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DeborahElliott2 05/29/08 - 04:52 am
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What? Your granddaughter

What? Your granddaughter cannot even tell you the states she has to travel through to get to another relatives house? Even My kids can do that and they are in 3rd and 4th Grades.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 05/29/08 - 06:57 am
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Government schools are sorely

Government schools are sorely lacking in many subjects, but none so much as history/civics. It's part of the reason we need competition for what the government offers. The "Dumbing Down of America" program continues to be a success.

UncleBill
6
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UncleBill 05/29/08 - 07:51 am
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Never before have so many

Never before have so many known so little about so much, ... or something like that.

christian134
1
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christian134 05/29/08 - 08:09 am
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Actually the "Dumbing Down of

Actually the "Dumbing Down of America" program...Which by the by I really like that patricia...:-)has become a reality if one considers just how far this Obama character has gotten in the political arena....Scarey huh?....

soldout
1280
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soldout 05/29/08 - 08:22 am
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Do home schooled students do

Do home schooled students do better in this?

LaTwon
1
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LaTwon 05/29/08 - 08:32 am
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the good socialist have a

the good socialist have a plan and administer it through the school system. who needs to know anything? the state will be yo momma and yo daddy and give you anything you desire. the state will take from the evil rich and give u what is best for you. just keep that self esteem up and dont worry. we are here to help. and just how can we teach the constitution and then break it all the time? who needs geography, buy a gps with the free money stimuli we will send u if you keep us in power.

underground history of american education
http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/index.htm

imdstuf
10
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imdstuf 05/29/08 - 08:36 am
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No Christian, actually

No Christian, actually Dumbing Down of America is another name for No Child Left Behind.

DeborahElliott2
4
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DeborahElliott2 05/29/08 - 08:38 am
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Yes, purvisinvestments, they

Yes, purvisinvestments, they do. In fact, if you want to learn some of the stuff they teach home schoolers, go to Barnes and Noble and pick up the book called What every (grade level inserted here) should know and it will really surprise you on what home schoolers actually learn. In fact, my kids are now starting on how our government works cause eventually I would hope they would vote when they get older, but they would need to understand how our country actually works. I also intend to teach them about the Constitution cause they all ready know that they have rights, but what they do with them is the difference. They also learn geography cause I have maps of the states in which they are to indicate where the mountains and deserts are, states and capitals, and learning to read road maps. They even learn about the size of the state and their goods, industries, what they grow in that state, etc. Literature is more sophisticated cause it teaches some Dickinson, Poe, folklores, poetry, etc.

truthhurts
0
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truthhurts 05/29/08 - 02:22 pm
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I appreciate and agree with

I appreciate and agree with Mr Speer that more pariticpation locally is certainly needed but did want to point our one bright point of our area's particpation: Although particpation from the area was sparse, we did win 2 of the top 3 places. As mentioned in Newsmakers in today's Chronicle in the Richmond County Neighbors section, my son Grayson LaHatte from Episcopal Day recieved 2nd place honors at the state NHD and will be going to Washington DC for National History Day finals held June 15-20. (Look for televised coverage on History Channel that week.) His classmate, Matheiu Erramuzpe, was the 3rd place finisher. Maybe their successes with inspire more active particpation in the future.

Grayson's Dad

Mr. Thackeray
953
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Mr. Thackeray 05/30/08 - 09:36 pm
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Every middle & high school as

Every middle & high school as well as every homeschooler has the opportunity to participate in NHD. The quest is WHY they don't. The answer are many and varied: lazy teachers, unsupportive administration, lazy students/parents, lack of teacher training, and lack of understanding of NHD. There are no excuses, history is important and sadly neglected. Read this week's Newsweek article: The Dumbest Generation? Don't be Dumb. 'nough said.

Mr T.

Mr. Thackeray
953
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Mr. Thackeray 05/30/08 - 09:38 pm
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Another related point. You

Another related point. You cannot totally blame the test for low scores; think grade inflation. Teachers won't admit it but they do it all the time for various reasons.

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