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Home > Importance of Fathers > Article

In Search of a History

by Richard Hiatt
Page three
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   Yet the distinguished historian Lawrence Goodwyn of Duke University has said that we cannot teach American history to American students. We can teach the "iconic version" filled with virtue and nobility but never a "radical" version that essentially tells the truth. "Race is the most obvious example of what I mean," Goodwyn says.

   As a result, our schools do not equip children to deal with "irreconcilable conflicts" pervasive throughout our history. Efforts to understand our country's past succumb to patriotic moralisms.

   As for the truth in education, we have yet another problem obstructing the truth. It also arrived in the 1960s. We might call it the underside of "civil rights" - or just "rights."

   The 1960s ushered in much animus toward elitism, particularly in education, and with it came an enormous panoply of student ignorance rationalized as a regard for "personal expression" and "self-esteem."

   Robert Hughes, in the Culture of Complaint, said it this way:

  Rather than "stress" the kids by asking them to read too much or think too closely, which might cause their fragile personalities to implode on contact with college-level demands, schools reduced their reading assignments,thus automatically reducing their command of language. Untrained in logical analysis, ill-equipped to develop and construct formal arguments about issues,unused to mining texts for deposits of factual material, the students fell back to the only position they could truly call their own: what they felt about things. When feelings and attitudes are the main referents of argument, to attack any position is automatically to insult its holder, or even to assail his or her perceived "rights"; every argumentum becomes ad hominem, approaching the condition of harassment, if not quite rape. "I feel very threatened by your rejection of my views on [check one]..."
   Hughes ended by saying,
   Cycle this subjectivization of discourse through two or three generations of students turning into teachers, with the sixties dioxins accumulating more each time, and you have the entropic background to our culture of complaint.

John Adams said, "There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide."

Copyright © 1998 Richard Hiatt. All rights reserved.

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