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Professor Albus Dumbledore via

Is There A Future For American History? NPR Says Maybe.

A history joke: “This is George Washington’s Ax, the one he used to chop down the cherry tree. The head’s been replaced five time, the handle eight, but it represents the same space.”

After you stop laughing you’ll see the history problem: the ax isn’t what it’s supposed to be.

The same history problem comes when a trusted information source like NPR interviews three women teaching history in college.

Is it wrong to believe lady professors know their history well enough to teach it? Of course not, but there is a history problem with these sources reporting the decline of history.

The old saw says history is written by winners. Can we agree that women are winning more today than any other time, but the history teaching tradition comes from old white guys?

I’m a history major who crafted a career in museum work. It was a history museum where a museum studies degree carried more weight, but history was important.

My American History professors were all men. One was a little man with a chronic hangover. He knew his stuff, but he was smelly and not the sort of teacher who drew students to his subject. That’s always a problem.

Since I was working full time and married with kids, I took a few classes that fit a time slot more than an interest. One of the classes was a seminar on the origins of WWI in the early 90’s. Bosnia and Herzegovina? Whatever. Imagine my surprise when the region heated with war.

My most important history class was the effects of unconditional surrender in Japan to end WWII.

American history is more than armed conflict, but that’s what’s in the news. Women professors change the direction of historical focus by including the home front of war, the hardships of raising children without men, the emerging acceptance of women in the work place.

Regardless of who teaches, history stands on its own among all subjects. You can find the history of english, history of math, history of economics, history of engineering. It works the other way around too, the english of history, math of history, economics of history, engineering of history, but it’s still about history.

Without historical perspective, American history in particular, you miss the frame work society is woven onto. The current abuse of history by irresponsible text book writers in Texas is still fresh.

Whether you pursue American history, read history for fun, or just have a curious nature, faulty facts will lead you astray. Political history and scientific history in the hands of religious fundamentalists creates a culture of ignorance. The writers may know the difference, but the students will need help uncovering truths important to American history.

Will it be easy? Will it be pretty? History never is.





About David Gillaspie
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