Dear David McCullough: I Respect You, But HOLY COW How Could You Forget Testing?!
For the better part of the show, it was mostly an interesting examination of American history and the role it plays in our lives today. But there was one part of the show when David McCullough talked about how disappointed he was with our youth's historical illiteracy. As an example, he spoke about a student he met at a midwestern university who didn't know that the original 13 colonies were on the East Coast.
Sad. I agree.
But McCullough went on to ruminate on the possible reasons for this disappointing historical illiteracy. He suggested a few problems we need to remedy:
1) Parents need to be more involved in the teaching of history
2) Students preparing to be teachers need to major in a subject area, not education
3) Lackluster teaching in the classroom
Good points. But good lord, Mr. McCullough, you left out THE most direct contributor to many of our students' growing historical illiteracy: high-stakes testing.
Now, I've got to say, I take personal offense to Mr. McCullough's charge because I'm a history teacher. I majored in history, and I'm far from a lackluster teacher. But in more than one school I've taught in, I've been directed away from teaching history in the name of preparing students for reading and writing tests. Moreover, schools across the country have been eliminating the social studies, physical education, and arts education in the name of preparing for high-stakes testing.
Please, Mr. McCullough, continue your campaign for the improvement of history education in our country, and continue your fabulous writing. But next time you get to talk about why our youth is undereducated on national television, PLEASE mention the faults with high-stakes testing. That message needs to be heard by the public as often as possible.