N. C. curriculum goes national, in not such a good way
Last week we published an article that was an outgrowth of the December County Commissioner meeting at which Commissioner Hood Richardson raised the issue of whether our students are learning what they need to be learning about American History.
That discussion originated in Hood's concern about a $250,000 grant the Beaufort County Schools has had for three years to teach 25 history teachers from Beaufort, Hyde, Tyrrell and Washington counties. The grant was intended to help history teachers be better prepared to teach history. But we learned that the grant did not cover the Founding Period of our nation.
Then we learned that of the 54 objectives in the current U. S. History Standard Course of Study only 3 deal with the Founding Period.
Now Fox News has run a national story about North Carolina considering revising its social studies curriculum even further to minimize the Founding period. You can read the Fox News report by clicking here.
In the comments to the Fox report is a comment posted by Vanessa Jeter. She refers readers to the new standards being developed. You can review the proposals by clicking here. Vanessa Jeter is the media communications person for the N. C. Department of Public Instruction.
You will note that the proposed standards are open for comment until February 15. The comments are being solicited from local school systems but presumably they would accept them from anyone. A review and feedback form is provided at the link above.
We have reviewed the proposed new standards at the link above and are even more dismayed than we were when we reviewed the current Standard Course of Study. We find the proposed curriculum for U. S. History very deficient. The verbage therein about making the material "relevant" and something the students can "connect" with is fluff. The issue is not how the student's affective domain responds but rather whether the content they are being taught is what every child should be taught about the history of this country. And you can't start with 1877 if you want to them to understand what is happening today. We should teach and insist that every student know and understand (be able to apply to current events) the fundamental principles upon which this nation was founded.
We would humbly suggest to the N. C. Department of Public Instruction that they should develop a Citizenship Test that is comparable but more rigorous than the Naturalization Citizenship test. If an natural-born American citizen can't pass the test that naturalized citizens have to pass they should understand something is wrong.
And while the write-up about the new proposals pushes making history "relevant" what should be remembered is that relevance is not achieved by the period of time being taught. Relevance is achieved by a good teacher knowing how to APPLY the essential truths embedded within the history of events to different events past, present and future. Neither the current Standard Course of Study nor the proposed one (even less) identifies what those essential truths are...and therein is the flaw in it all.
Delma Blinson writes the "Teacher's Desk" column for our friend in the local publishing business: The Beaufort Observer
. His concentration is in the area of his expertise - the education of our youth. He is a former teacher, principal, superintendent and university professor.