Using History

The overarching problem in the articles we read this week seems to be a lack of peer review, either because it is not normally part of the specific field (smaller museums) or because the peer reviewers failed (Virginia text book).  The most appalling problem is that the museum curator (from the “Munchausen” Museum) was upset to receive any criticism and responded with erroneous assertions.  The museum curator mentioned that discussing slavery would make young black students “hate the messenger,” but how can they trust the “messenger” if it fails to acknowledge their own personal history because the museum acts as if it is shameful or dirty.  The text book writer seemed ambivalent about having her mistake caught and unconcerned about using the internet as her only source of information for claiming that there were black soldiers fighting for the Confederacy.  Clearly an ethical line was crossed in allowing text books used in public schools to contain information that has no basis in truth.

The “Conservative Class on the Found Fathers” article reminded me of the MLK website we looked at in class.  The information seems to fit together and make sense on the surface, but falls apart quickly with even a small amount of critical analysis.  It seems unfortunate to pass off pseudo-history on somewhat unsuspecting students, but the students in this case seem to pay for the type of history they want to hear.  These classes seem more upfront with their agenda (however warped it is).  It seems like if Earl Taylor wanted to be considered an academic historian or made claims as such, this might be crossing an ethical line, but he does not necessarily make claims of this nature.  He caters to a private audience who wants this biased view of history.  It is unfortunate that he is fueling an erroneous view of the Founding Fathers, but I highly doubt that he changed any of the views his students held prior to the class.  (On a more random note: this article did appear to have a weird bias against home schooled kids which seemed unfair and odd.)   “They Have Blood on Their Hands” has a similar problem with the “Founding Fathers” article where history is being distorted to serve a minority, but it is a private affair, so it would be hard to regulate it.  Celebrating the Confederacy while ignoring slavery is ignorant and in poor taste, but they are upfront with their bias and are catering to a narrow audience who is demanding this version of history.


3 thoughts on “Using History”

  1. There is actually a whole culture of home-schooled uber-religious (a technical term) folks who don’t do public school because of the evolutionary agenda, or the sex education, or the liberalization of the school children. (Have you ever watched the Jesus Camp documentary?!) I’m sure they were the target, that’s who I thought of when I read that.

    Strangely enough, I also thought of them when we read Potts and Hayden’s prescription for a mandatory secular education in Sex and War.

  2. There definitely are some extreme examples of homeschooling gone weird…or wrong. But the author could have been more specific about his target. It was way too general of a criticism for me.

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