The dating game

By

The news last week was enough to make a colonial scholar weep: Some of America's top students don't know much about US history. "Give me liberty or give me death" didn't resonate with more than two-thirds of the seniors from 55 top colleges surveyed. Only one-third connected John Marshall with Marbury v. Madison. The Constitution was a mystery to a majority.

Chagrined, some congressmen want a resolution calling for more required US history. This could be instructive, especially for students who do not know what a resolution is, or what Congress does. If texts keep emphasizing visual appeal over substance and a date or two, that may not change soon.

One solution could be to assign, say, "The Patriot." Students were knowledgeable about video- and TV-based facts, something that has encouraged many teachers to use these media liberally.

Recommended: Father's Day: 12 best books for Dad

American distaste for dates and their own and others' history is nothing new. Art Garfunkel sang about it. A Boston Globe columnist recently asked skeptically if requiring a history graduation test would yield a graduate a job. My high school told me two decades ago that "concepts" were the thing.

E.D. Hirsch, author of "Cultural Literacy," has made a name protesting these viewpoints. But despite higher standards, his is a tough battle. Mindful of my own deficiencies, I asked my daughter dates this year as I quizzed her before tests. My teacher doesn't want those, she sniffed. Our disagreement on this point rivaled Gettysburg in drama. So I guess we're going to the movies.

*E-mail newcomba@csps.com

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

Share this story:

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...