Motivate students to embrace history

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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