When I left school to go on orders prior to Iraq everything was as before. 8th grade US History covered from the beginning up to THE WAR and Reconstruction. Everything taught related to and culminated in the War in 1861-65. Issues North and South began even before we were a nation. Then in 11th grade US HIstory from 1870's on was to be taught. It was hard to drive in all the early history to 8th graders to create that foundation they would need for understanding our nation post Civil War since that war affected so many things later. Anyway, for those who don't know that has all changed.
While I was gone, the STate Dept of Ed in all its "glory" and "intelligence" decided that US History needs to be in the 5th grade (up to 1865) and 6th grade (1865-present). Then in 11th grade they take it in High School again. Perhaps I am the only one who sees the travesty in this or perhaps I am just crazy and it is really no big deal. However, 5th and 6th grade is taught pretty elementary and there is no way those students can understand yet the intricacies and politics of those times to give them the foundation to really understand in high school. Every year I find that 8th graders have been spoon fed and not ready for the jump to high school. Teaching methods in middle school many times still reflect elementary methods and procedures. Needless to say that when I came home and resumed my duties I was not happy to see this had happened. THe only answer I have been told is that the Dept of Ed had determined that they felt students couldn't be ready to understand US History until they had World History. Well, I for one disagree. Sure there are many things that occurred in Europe prior to the US that did have effects on how our country developed. However, it is not anything that inhibits or detracts from learing about how our nation formed and the trials and changes it has went through. I have 8th graders that have no concept about how the French and Indian War began the issues that would lead the colonies to rebel, and they sure don't have an understanding of any of the early 1800's issues (Comporomise of 1820, Great Compromise, Kansas-Nebraska Act, Mexican War etc) that led to the war that would change the nation in 1861-65. WHy is that? Well can you imagine a 5th grade teacher, that is responsible for Math, REading, English, Science, etc being able to get into the details of this subject for 5th graders? Most 8th graders tell me the war was fought specifically to free the slaves, the NORth was good, the South was bad. I don't know about many of you but that angers me greatly!
What do we do now? Well I have been giving my State Rep and State Sen an earfull about it every time I see them. If other US History teachers are not unhappy about this I would be shocked. However, many of my fellow teachers are taught or intimidated not to rock the boat so to speak. It doesn't bother me, if the boat is going to be Shanghai'ed then I'll sink it before I just roll over and let them have it.
THis is my take on it and there may be other teachers who feel just the opposite and that this move is needed and warranted. I may even be in the minority of US History teachers because there is no venue for discussing it. I had a friend who had a co-worker on the committee to discuss this and vote on it. When it came time, this person who questioned it and seemed ready to argue was told to "shut up and vote for it". So intimidation by the Dept of Ed committee forced this down the throats of some. I only wish I could have been on that committee. THey would have to have carried me out in cuffs. I may be about to wage a one man battle to try and find a way to overturn this measure. My State Sen even stated that it might need to be relooked.
If you know a US HIstory teacher or former 8th grade US HIstory teacher ask and see what they think about this. I am not a sheep that just blindly goes where led. I want to know why it was changed, what the reasoning behind it is, and if anyone thought about the negative issues with it. I know teachers were not polled about it.
I just wanted to pass this on for rumination to those of you, who like me, feel our kids aren't taught US History that well in the first place. Now it has all but been assured that our students will not get a good understanding when an 11th grade teacher has to go back to the beginning and start over. My son, who took the the AP US History in the 10th grade stated that they never got to the "meat and potatoes" of the 20th century or contemporary US History because they have to go so far back and "start over". I just can't see students understanding what our ancestors did, endured and accomplished by teaching in this manner.
Perhaps I am wrong and just can't see it. If that is the case then we all have nothing to worry about. THe students will do just fine and understand things very well. ...But what if I am not wrong????
Sorry for the lengthy post but I wanted some others who have an interest in our past, especially 1861-65 and all its causes and outcomes, to know what has occurred. There is no other forum for me to present this within the education field at this time so I wanted to test the waters with you folks, whom I know to be well versed in the subject.