Neutering American History in the Classroom

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryRecently I talked to a young man who works in a restaurant. He will soon be graduating from high school, and he hopes to go to music school. I asked him what he learned about American history. I asked if he learned about the American Revolution. That was taught. I asked if he learned about the War of 1812. No. What about the U.S.-Mexico War? Yes. The U.S. Civil War? Yes. The Spanish-American War? No. World War I and World War II? Yes. He mentioned that he did not learn anymore about American history after 1945. I was thoroughly stunned how little American history the Generation Z kids are getting. It seems bare-bones, and in some cases not even that.

What about the Korean War? The Vietnam War? The Cold War? The Civil Rights Movement? The year 1989 that changed everything and ended the Cold War? September 11th? The Afghanistan War? The Iraq War? In so many ways, it is almost like not teaching almost one-fourth of American history. When I was in high school, I learned about the Vietnam War which was the most recent event in my day then. If Generation Z kids are not given the chance to know about the history that is part of their heritage, then how will they understand the conditions we are living with now? If they get into politics, then how will they comprehend how the laws and procedures for government work? One other disturbing thing is as I have spoken about before is that there are no books put out in local public libraries on the Afghanistan War. This war had a great impact on the current Millennials and Generation Z kids, and they are not given the chance to learn about it in class?!

It seems that history is fast becoming an irrelevant subject. But history is incredibly important for knowing who we are as a people, the institutions that our ancestors had built, and most important knowing what we did in the past so we know what mistakes we should not repeat. I think that our educators may be letting down the Generation Z kids who will eventually be taking over in running this country and steer this nation in the not-so-distant future.

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