Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The education system

I've been reading various news articles and comments on the situation in many universities, and it reminded me of something.

In 1978 I was taking classes at Cameron University in Lawton. In one history class the teacher was very insistent we learn the 'truth' about our history. Among other things the 'truth' included:
Ben Franklin was damn near senile, and woke up at the Congress & Convention just long enough to say something wise, then dropped off again.
Most of the founders though the rest of the country was made up of servants.
None of the founders actually liked the idea of everyone owning guns.
And so forth.

It was hugely frustrating because I knew a lot of it was crap, but I was a little worried about my grade if I made much noise about it. Also, I wasn't sure how to make the argument in a good way; being a teenager who tended to get loud in an argument has drawbacks. So I sat there, and got my grade, and kept my mouth shut.

Looking back on it, the thought strikes that if this was happening in a small college in Oklahoma, what the hell was being taught in large universities in big cities in other states?

Now I know.

Several years ago my daughter, in her senior year of high school, had a class on early American history. A few years before I'd told her the story about a rifleman killing a British officer at a critical part of the battle of Saratoga, possibly making one of, if not the, critical turns in the battle. So she brought it up, and the teacher basically said "Didn't happen, couldn't have mattered anyway". So she came to me asking for documentation. Happily, I'd saved my old copies of Muzzle Blasts, a magazine for people who shoot muzzleloaders and do recreation activities, and I found the article describing the incident, including names and footnotes. So she took it in to show the teacher.

I'd always thought a teacher should be happy to hear new information in their specialty. Instead, he basically said that he'd never heard of it before, so it didn't really count, and dropped it. He was also annoyed that she'd actually argued a point with him.

It's really discouraging at times.


freddyboomboom said...

Once in 7th or 8th grade social studies class I told my teacher that the textbook was wrong. It said that the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific had never been found. I had just recently read in a book my Mom had about a sailing ship that had traversed the Northwest Passage with it's crew frozen in their bunks, and told my teacher this. He said "prove it" and when I brought the book in the next day admitted in front of the class that he and the textbook were wrong. He reminded me of that incident years later when I was home on leave from the Navy... That's a REAL teacher...

og said...

it's not just discouraging, it's downright infuriating.

yes, I remember those teachers,and frankly, our schol system is packed almost solid with them.

Want an ionteresting take on some of the problems and some of the possible solutions, go to

Love the kilt.

Firehand said...

Agreed, Freddy, that's what a good teacher should do.

Thank you, Og. That's a Utilikilt I got last year. One of these days I'll find a shot of my great kilt and use it.

mandrill said...

Being a scot and familiar with the whole kilt thing the utilikilt could only have been thought of by an american. Great idea though. Bring back the kilt :)
On the Teacher thing I went to school in scotland (which supposedly has one of the best education systems in the world and I was told that I couldn't write a "review of personal reading" on a modern author (who I enjoyed reading and actually had some valid things to say in his work) because it "wasn't literature" I showed him the definition of literature in the dictionary and he backed down (Gave me a D though for work that other teachers have said would have got at least a B,I think its cos I made him feel stupid.) Something we often forget (and teachers forget it too sometimes) is that teachers are only human and suffer all the flaws that that entails.
p.s. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong I'm not a teacher. :)

Firehand said...

Oh yeah, I like the kilt. This area being, oh, just a bit further south than Scotland, my belted plaid ain't 9 yards long; except in the depths of winter, that's just too damn much wool.

Nice thing on the utilikilt is the pockets. A sporran in fine for dress occasions or a fair, but a bit of a pain many other times.