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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

George Washington one more time

I happened on an article in Huffington Post written by someone named Schweitzer who is listed as “having served at the White House during the Clinton Administration as Assistant Director for International Affairs in the Office of Science and Technology Policy.” Here is a piece of what he said:

“The health care debate cannot be understood in historic context because many Americans have never heard of Thomas Jefferson. Extrapolating from state surveys, only 14% of American high school students can name who wrote the Declaration of Independence. Nearly 75% do not know that George Washington was our first president… We can say that our educational system has failed when the vast majority of American students do not know enough to pass an exam to qualify as American citizens.”


First let’s talk about why we have such a failed system. Could it be the policies of Presidents like Clinton, who pursued a policy of never offending the teacher’s unions by doing anything threatening to them like changing the curriculum?

Or, could it be that fools like you define education in terms of random facts you wish everyone knew? The problem is not that people don’t know who Thomas Jefferson was. If citizens knew who he was would that mean that they can now think clearly and not be Influenced by all the special interests who are trying to tell them what to think? If they knew who George Washington was, what exactly would they know about him? That he could never tell a lie? -- obviously untrue. That he was a brilliant general? Doubtful. That he owned 300 slaves? Not usually mentioned. That he married a rich woman probably so he could get her land? Nah. You are upset because our students don’t know our national myths and some random facts.

I am upset that people can’t think clearly. Surely this is the problem with our so–called national debate on health care. Surely the schools could address this issue. Nah, it would mean giving up on tests that see if students can memorize a right answer.


Heather said...

Very succinctly put. What do Thomas Jefferson and George Washington have to do with the history of the healthcare debate in the first place?

Deirdre said...

I think the over emphasize on memorizing facts determined by so called authority is a huge contributor to the US health care follies because rather than critically thinking, people now look to the church and FOX news (next gen authority) for "the facts".