Keeping History Alive

In this interview, titled “Don’t Know Much About History”, historian David McCullough laments the state of historical education in the United States. The Department of Education recently reported that only 12% of high school seniors have a firm grasp of American history.

“Who cares?”, you might think. Well, McCullough does. He states, “History is a source of strength. It sets higher standards for all of us”.

This author of recent history bestsellers like
John Adams and 1776 pinpoints four leading causes in the American student’s decline.

First, teachers who major in teaching as opposed to a favorite subject are unable to relay their passion to their students. Teaching your area of expertise gives teachers a vested interest in education and their student’s retention.

Second, history these days, especially at the college level, is taught in overly-specific categories instead of chronological order. So, students learn about African American history or Women’s history, but have no spatial recognition of where that history falls on an overall historical timeline.

Third, text books have become overly politically correct, which forces teachers to allot historically absurd amounts of time to events and people who appeal to their student demographic, as opposed to some of the main players in history (especially American history).

Finally, he states that today’s text books are flat-out boring. And that’s no help in inspiring America’s schoolchildren.

While I agree with Mr. McCullough on all of his points, one of them especially hits home. After attending B. C. High, I’m a firm believer in the importance of teacher’s majoring in the subjects that they will eventually teach. Over my four years there I experienced countless teachers, most only a few years out of college, who were truly dedicated to their subjects. They were able to convey that passion each and every day and helped their students see the value in the subject, even if the text book fell victim to some of Mr. McCullough’s noted points of contention.

Were some teachers less adept at handling unruly students, counseling, etc.? Perhaps. After all, they certainly didn’t learn those skills majoring in English or History in college like they would have at a teaching institution. But, at the end of the day they used their natural people skills to adapt and overcome and successfully impart their knowledge on their students. And, come to think of it, if they were unable to overcome the challenges of the classroom, you didn’t see them around the old halls of McElroy the next year. Now that’s something you certainly wouldn’t see in a public school.

I will always be thankful for the dedicated teacher’s I experienced on Morrissey Boulevard who were true masters of their educational domain.

This Can't be Politically Correct


Debate Reaction

Just finished watching tonight’s Republican debate that was held at St. Anselm’s College in New Hampshire. Here are my post-game takeaways:

-Romney seemed the most presidential and walked away the winner of tonight’s debate. He avoided sounding extreme on many issues that turn off independent New Hampshire and US voters and stuck to his talking points on the economy. He also engaged the crowd and seemed more human than usual by updating the crowd on the Bruin’s score and mentioning his home in New Hampshire.

-I wish Ron Paul had more mainstream views on foreign policy and/or was electable. He definitely came off as the smartest candidate and the one most devoted to his beliefs. He’s practically a walking Constitution and has no problem engaging his audience. I’m lucky enough to have seen him speak before and think he’d make a great president. He just doesn’t have the means of getting there.

-Herman Cain’s long shot candidacy has effectively been ended after the moderator, John King, brought up some ridiculous comments he made earlier in the week about not appointing a Muslim to his Cabinet because he couldn’t trust his/her dedication to America.

-Newt Gingrich looks old and pathetic on the stage and should just follow the lead of the majority of his staffers this week- and bail.

-Unfortunately, people will always associate Michele Bachmann with Sarah Palin because of her faultless conservative views and personal similarities. And she is therefore unelectable.

-Rick Santorum and Tim Pawlenty failed to rise above the noise and make any real impact tonight.

-All the candidates should stop trying to be the most conservative on gay rights, especially in a state like New Hampshire. Gay marriage may be an issue for older voters, but their importance is fading year by year. Most people under the age of 40 either: A) don’t care about gay rights, especially given the fact that we are a country at war and in the midst of an economic crisis or B) supports gay rights. Why not make an attempt to please all sides by saying that you might oppose gay marriage personally, but that as a constitutionalist you support the right of states to make their own decisions on the issue?

-John King should never be allowed to moderate another debate. His mumbling during the candidate’s answers was distracting and annoying. If he wanted them to speed up or move on he should have just said so.

-The candidates need to do some serious work on their Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security talking points. If I was approaching retirement or relied on any of these services, none of the candidate’s answers would have mollified my fears. They cannot let the Democrats gain the upper hand on communicating these vital issues.

-I look forward to John Huntsman and Texas Governor Rick Perry joining the group for future debates.

Now back to the Bruins game...

Scituate in Virginia

Car in front of me on the way home from base today. A little bit of Scituate in Virginia!



Kindle at the Beach

Saw this sight down in Hilton Head this past weekend. Not sure how comfortable I would feel with my Kindle surrounded by water...