“Don’t know much about history…”
Have you seen the latest commercial from Frosted Mini Wheats where the young elementary-age student is being quizzed about American History?
It’s really cute…and could be inspiring. Except, like so many other things “marketing,” it’s not very real. No, I don’t mean the costumed Mini Wheats…I KNOW they’re not real. But they’re just about as real as the image of our young kids learning US History these days.
In case you didn’t know, “civics” or US History isn’t one of the things on standardized tests. As a result, there is less and less emphasis on teaching history than there was even 10-15 years ago.
It became very real to me when I quizzed my own then-5th grade child about what she knew about the Declaration of Independence and why we celebrate the 4th of July. The results were disturbing, so much that I wrote about it that month. I remember when I was a child (now, now…it wasn’t THAT long ago!) that in 5th grade we did a “President’s Report” (pick a President of the United States to study and write about), a State report (same idea…one of the 50 states), and we had regular, planned lessons on US History.
What our kids aren’t learning these days about their country is disturbing. So much that we actually announced the creation of a new set of curricula and lessons specifically geared toward providing a simple method for teachers to incorporate history and character studies in their day.
It’s scary…my kids have all learned the full lifecycle of isopods and slugs, and they release farmed salmon fry into local streams, but even now, when I had my Middle School student watch the Mini Wheats commercial, I asked her: did you know about those (examples they share on the ad)? Well, she knew about Columbus, but couldn’t come up with the others.
How are you supposed to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you came from and how you got there? Glenn Beck has mentioned much along these lines in his books and programs, and regardless of what else you think of the man’s politics, he has a point when it comes to US history and the “demise” of our Founding Fathers, what they stood for and why they created this country in the first place.
Perhaps if the Frosted Mini Wheats would become a cartoon offered on Disney Channel, our kids would learn these valuable lessons. Good thing Lincoln, Franklin and Washington are on our currency or these kids would think Apple and Microsoft created our great country and it was announced on Twitter. Oh, but that was before Al Gore invented the Internet, so that couldn’t have been (oh, I am so gonna BURN for that one!).
Point is: there’s so much for our kids to learn and without lessons in civics, history and the like, they’ll be missing out a great deal on a complete education. How can we expect them to be effective voters, citizens and leaders if they don’t know what we stand for, why we believe it, and why we even came to be as a great nation? It’s an incomplete education at best, but sadly, that keeps being a consistent theme. And, what, I wonder, will we sacrifice next?