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Thread: Is Black History taught in schools?

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    Question Is Black History taught in schools?

    I was talking to someone outside of Philly and they said that they didn't learn anything about black history or anything in school. I said that here in philly we don't learn jack about European history, but everybody knows about the Mali to the Songhai or Marcus Garvey to Nat Turner. Malcolm X gets as much attention as MLK, which the person found shocking. Unfortunately, no one in Philly knows what the Protestant Reformation is or even heard of it, for example, which has had a far greater influence on America and the world today than let's say Mansa Musa's pilgrimage to Mecca which every 8th grader here could tell you about.

    So I'm asking... do people in other cities learn about minority history to the extent that we do here in Philly? I've always been against such minority patronizing (and complete negliegence of Europe) but that was assuming the schools of the whole country was saturated with such inequality.


    thanks
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    I've never leanred a bit about Mali and Songhai and the like... but then why should one taught about African history in a European culture, there's just no time for that, and the teaching of European history was already shallow at best.

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    We learn about the slave trade, and that's about it.
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    Well, 19th century colonial affairs are a matter, not to that detailed an extent though.

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    As far as I can tell history education in the US is pretty crappy across the board. I don't remember a big concentration on black history except for a few token units on George Washington Carver in February. Most of my schooling was in Arkansas but I was in Phailadelphia for a few years. I'm a bit curious about my old school with all the reorganization that's been going on there.

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    The day that High Schoo portrays Black History based on what we know (w/o subscribing whole heartedly to some theories while other theories have equal validity). History in High School (with perhaps the exception of AP high school) is cultural indoctrination. Black history is somewhat of a black mark (no pun intended) on US history. Its NOT going to get an honest look over in public schools. Way too many special interests are involved in the end result of our cirriculum. High school history is an attempt to paint a semi-accurate picture of America that doesnt make anyone mad. No controversy is the goal, not accuracy.

    I highly recomend that everyone interested read "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong" by James Lowen. Very enlightening book.
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    Well there is limited time to learn about history, so I guess school should teach the important stuff (not that we actually learned about that ), and while the history of Mali is interesting, in the scheme of things it isn't very important.

    We didn't learn about 'Black history'.
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    Its sad too, cause people of our (Im 21) generation know they were taught crap and that the truth is messier. It doesnt help make us any less cynical.

    Its also sad because true and honest US history is interesting.

    BTW as an example: I never learned of how America treated slave revolts in Haiti and other sugar areas. Also often in southern classrooms slavery is often portrayed as a equitable practice for both sides while in actuality it is actually near impossible to tell exactly how the black slaves felt about their condition. They were mostly illiterate (education was illegal) those that could write were either 1) free or 2) so high in the ranks that they cant speak really for the field hands. Then there's controversial evidence gathered during the Roosevelt administration, where white government employees went around to former slaves (who were children at the time) and interviewed them about their experience. Critics argue though that these tales were embelleshed upon quite a bit.

    Oh I also like how after the great success of civil rights (or so its portrayed) after the civil war, what happens next to black americans kind of dissapears other than anecdotal pieces of optimism - this clever black man invented some oil applier or something, how cute then the story picks up of course at Martin Luther King, ignoring all that unpleasentness in between. Yay america, we treat minorities well.

    :sarcasm:

    Oh dont even get me started about mindless history standardized testing. There is a reason the US sucks at history.
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    I proud to say that the public school I went to did a great job teaching English, literature, history (mostly European and American but one semister was spent on mid-east and Asian history), higher math (most people took Calculas as a college prep); as well as extras such as foriegn language, music, and art.

    Learning about minority contributions to society is important but many of the modern PC versions totally eliminate tradional history topics. If someone can't identify something as basic as the Protestant Reformation then the entire school board for that city should be shot. There simply is no excuse...
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    When I was in school, 20 years ago, we didn't learn jack squat about Black history, even in February. Black people didn't exist in hisotry, except as the slavery problem. Then they disappeared for 100 years until MLK.

    From everything I've heard from other folks, that is still pretty much the case today. In schools with large minority populations, they do pay more attention to African and Black histories. Still, I'm not sure that Mali and Songhai deserve that much attention paid to them for an US history class. Marcus Garvey, Nat Turner, and Malcolm X should get plenty of attention paid to them. X was pretty much the main inspiration for the much more vocal and radical Black youth after 1965. Garvey was the leader of the largest movement in Black history (and is virtually unknown).

    Nat Turner may or may not have been at the center of a large slave conspiracy to overthrow slavery in South Carolina. There is a rened debate about that now, since much of the evidence was the word of one or two people and it is now argued that Turner may have been the victim of the corrupt govenor of South Carolina using him as a scapegoat to turn attention away from him.
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    this'll blow your mind

    HA think your high schools are bad, check out mine

    We have an advisory class once a week to catch up on stuff, retake tests. My teacher for that is the football coach and a US history teacher. The 1st semester final in that class was TO NAME THE CAPITALS OF THE STATES!. That's pathetic, for a large suburban school that was only built 5 years ago, its a damn shame.

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    i think the biggest problem, which has been addressed, is the giant leap from 1865 to 1954. Not much is said for what goes on between then. And until just before high school, i was under the impression that slavery was ended so everyone was treated the same (minus Jim Crow)

    Only in AP did we really go into Reconstruction...

    but for the proportion that black history is of US History, I think it's more than covered in the classroom. Just, perhaps, not evenly throughout (IE certain time periods of black history are pushed more than others...Slavery/Civil Rights being the big one)
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    The thing in this debate that gets overlooked is that blacks get the most specific, focused attention of any group. The Native Americans disappeared after the Dawes Act. The Japanese are only mentioned during the internment camps. We have had plenty of minorities, none of whom get as much attention as the African Americans. (For English classes, books about minorities/racism seem to make up at least 40% of the books we have to read). It is right that we focus on black history when major events are going on with them, for instance the civil rights movements, or Blacks during reconstruction, but they should not get specific focused attention ovre any other group. High school has to teach alot of history in a limited time(I have NEVER seen a history class cover the full extent of time it was supposed too, not even in AP European History), so it should not waste time looking at every specific group.
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    They could use People's History of the US, as a text. It covers everyone through the whole of their history in the US.
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    So are we in Philly learning more black history than people in other parts of the country? It is messed up though that we don't learn much of anything concerning Europe. In 10th grade World Cultures, we did a little about Rome then jumped to Elizabethan England and that was it.


    Andrew1999:

    What school did you go to?
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    They could use People's History of the US, as a text. It covers everyone through the whole of their history in the US.
    My US History class did
    I think the way history was treated in my middleschool was really pathetic, we spend the first semester on the colonies the American revolution and whatnot, the third quarter on all things black, and the fourth quarter on all things women and skipped everything else. Unless you're going to integrate teaching about minorities into the sweep of history all you end up getting is the impression that they were a site-show for "real" history of, even worse, not even trying to teach the general outline of history.

    In none of my pre-College classes was any African (besides Ancient Egypt) history discussed ever, same went for asia (only classical civilizations and precious little of that) and all the Latin American history I got taught was in Bolivia I've learned more in a weekend with a good book then I ever did in all my pre-college history courses combined (especially since I'd already read A People's History ).
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    Originally posted by Albert Speer
    Andrew1999:

    What school did you go to?
    I went to Lowell Elementary School in N Philadelphia. This was almost 20 years ago (wow, that makes me feel really old) so it could very well be something else now. I know the building still exists--I saw it on MapQuest aerial photography.

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    I don't know if anyone has said it for sure yet, but AP history is pretty broad. International Baccaloreate (IB) history is even more broad, I suppose, since European history and American history are required. I learned about Africa in 10th grade, in pre-IB, actually to a great extent, because my school has a very good history teacher. I'd say I know a huge bit of history from school, but I've only been through the advanced stuff (and we all know the rest is basically just a day-care).

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    I actually had a good high school US history class ( ). It's not how I would've ran the class (now that I know more about the subject), but I learned quite a bit, including the history of black people in the US. And not the idiotic culture-type crap that one tends to learn in many US history classes (particularly, before high school), but the actual dynamics of the economic and social status of blacks in the US. It might've been better had it not been an AP class (and not constrained to the AP curriculum).

    That said, I probably learned more reading a couple books on US history (such as the aforementioned "Peoples' History of the United States" by Howard Zinn, which everyone ought to read) than all formal education on the subject combined.

    High school world history was somewhat worse. Not a very interesting class, but I suppose I couldn't hope for much more given the scope. It covered world history decently enough (including black history, I remember covering Mali and Zimbabwe, for instance), with a very justifiable concentration on European history.

    Pre-high school classes were absolutely horrid... I don't understand how teachers can subject students to this kind of crap. By far, the best covered subject was exploration (both of Western US and general post-Columbus exploration). Bleh.

    I highly recomend that everyone interested read "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong" by James Lowen. Very enlightening book.
    I also recommend it. Very well-documented (though I didn't always agree with Loewen's conclusions).
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    Not black history, but we were taught a whole bunch of American Indian history in Ohio. Tecumseh, etc. It was taught much more than post WW2 American history. I had a couple of American Indians in my class, and there weren't any black people in our whole school district, so I suppose it makes sense.

    However, I don't remember much of it. It was one of those subjects where they teach you well enough, but you only remember insofar as you are interested at the time.

    Malcolm X wasn't taught in history. Rather, in English literature. Go figure.
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    Andrew1999:

    Lowell? Up near Fern Rock? That's kind of more like Olney than North, especially now cause North is considered THE ghetto of Philly and Olney is still pretty nice. I dont know anything about that school though. I don't think the elementary schools are being privatized as yet but I dont know.


    thanks
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    "They could use People's History of the US, as a text. It covers everyone through the whole of their history in the US."

    They could, but they should porbably try to find less ideologically driven sources......
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    Originally posted by Albert Speer
    Andrew1999:

    Lowell? Up near Fern Rock? That's kind of more like Olney than North, especially now cause North is considered THE ghetto of Philly and Olney is still pretty nice. I dont know anything about that school though. I don't think the elementary schools are being privatized as yet but I dont know.


    thanks
    Yeah, Olney rings a bell. Nice to know it's still a decent place to live, especially considering the way a lot of cities have been going downhill.

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    Re: this'll blow your mind

    Originally posted by Par4
    HA think your high schools are bad, check out mine

    We have an advisory class once a week to catch up on stuff, retake tests. My teacher for that is the football coach and a US history teacher. The 1st semester final in that class was TO NAME THE CAPITALS OF THE STATES!. That's pathetic, for a large suburban school that was only built 5 years ago, its a damn shame.
    oh I don't know. Geography is an important subject which is over looked all to often. As long as you went over other subjectsas well then I would say it was a worth while excercise.
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    Originally posted by Shi Huangdi
    "They could use People's History of the US, as a text. It covers everyone through the whole of their history in the US."

    They could, but they should porbably try to find less ideologically driven sources......
    That would be impossible. Unless you are sticking merly to dates and names, history is entirely about ideology and politics. Dispite the fact that you disagree with it's politics, it is simply the best American history text out there. Who Built America? is quite good, but it's not as in depth as Zinn's book.
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    Yeah, I think that I recieved proportionally too much Black History to other history. I learned much more about Malcolm X than about Winston Churchill. George Washington Carver probably got as much coverage as George Washington. Everyone knows that the only pilots in WW2 were the Tuskegee Airmen! Black history should be taight, but it shouldn't be as forced in as it is now. It needs to be better integrated. As it is it appears to be nothing but biased propaganda. I've heard many people complain that there is a black history month, but no white history or asian history month.
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    Like someone said, there is only a limited amount of time, and you can't go into everything. I did learn about the Freedman's Bureau and the KKK in reconstruction and blacks flocking to Roosevelt, but from reconstruction to MLK, ALL that we covered was really TR, WW1, New Deal and WW2. We hardly talked about Korea at all. When everything is smushed together, you lose a lot.

    So I don't think it is an indictment on high schools that black history isn't taught enough. There simply aren't enough days in the school year.
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    WHile that's certainly true, Imran, even within those areas Black, Hispanic, Women's history could be much better incorporated. WWI, the Depression, and WWII provide lots of material in all those areas. In WWI, suffregettes were put in prison for protesting at the White House, Black Soldiers in France learned what it was like to be treated as equals by White people (albeit French white people) and brought this home with them. Marcus Garvey and the Harlem Renaissance along with the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Mexican-Americans could be part of the discussion on the Depression, women's entry into the industrial worker force as part of WWII history.

    Frankly, the social, political, and economic changes that occurred during these periods are for more important than knowing the various battles of the Pacifc War or about the Battle of the Bulge, etc. Certain things like the Battles of Verdun and the Somme should be discussed, but because these were million death battles, and had profound impact upon the politics of Western Europe. Likewise, you would discuss Midway and Stalingrad, which were not only turning points, but rallying points.
    Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree...

  29. #29
    Par4
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    I'm curious as to how students in your schools treated history. Most in the people I know don't give a crap, they have that attitude "Well why do I need to know about the river Rubicon I'm never gonna use that". The value of being knowledgable and working hard for the sake of taking pride in your work seems to be lost on 98% of all people I've ever met. And it's just perpetuated by a lot of the teachers in my school, handing out A's, teaching subjects they don't know, not grading our homework, etc. And the books miss the big scheme of things.

    If the students don't see any reason to learn, or don't want to learn they'll never understand history. Seems a lot like a lost cause to me

  30. #30
    Imran Siddiqui
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    I just went to the mall and flipped through 'People's History'. A little ideological, anyone?! The Revolutionary War chapter was detailing whether or not the Founders wanted to protect their own class. I didn't even see a MENTION of Saratoga! Holy Crap! And you want this in High schools?

    Btw, che, most of the stuff you mentioned were covered in my College American History class. But in that class, it was assumed you already went over the basics of American history in High School, so we really didn't go over that. That was the ONLY way we could cover all the social stuff, if we assumed people had information on WW2 and WW1 from high school.
    “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
    - John 13:34-35 (NRSV)

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