Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Revising American History 1776 and Educational Psychology

 


One Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2021, the White House released a report on American History called “The 1776 Report.”

The 1776 Report has caused a stir because of the ongoing battle over perspectives on American slavery and the implications for today’s racism. To meet the challenges of The 1776 Report, The 1619 Project, and a plethora of scholarship, educators will likely need conflict management skills.

Whatever views educators may have about US history, it seems inevitable that some students and their parents will hold sharply different perspectives on the events in history and how those perspectives should inform current views on future laws and policies. It is easy to see how sharp disagreements could lead to an uncomfortable climate and difficulty having a civil discussion about different perspectives.


“The most common charge levelled against the founders, and hence against our country itself, is that they were hypocrites who didn’t believe in their stated principles, and therefore the country they built rests on a lie. This charge is untrue, and has done enormous damage, especially in recent years, with a devastating effect on our civic unity and social fabric.” (p. 10)


On page 17, school officials are advised of their moral duty.

“States and school districts should reject any curriculum that promotes one-sided partisan opinions, activist propaganda, or factional ideologies that demean America’s heritage, dishonor our heroes, or deny our principles. Any time teachers or administrators promote political agendas in the classroom, they abuse their platform and dishonor every family who trusts them with their children’s education and moral development.”

Not surprisingly, the report has generated controversy.

Following are a few links to media coverage revealing a range of responses.

Forbes

Fox news

MSNBC

The Hill

WAPO

The complexities of analyzing historical documents are surely debatable by those who are experts in a field. I can only imagine the difficulty in deciding what counts as important history for US Students. I hope that beyond the majority of opinion about the facts and relevant contexts, students learn how to think about history and appreciate some degree of humility when it comes to human memories of events and how our minds filter information with cognitive biases.



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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Guns Keeping America Safe

BBC linked image

Congress works under the protection of heavily armed guards. Images of America under attack have gone round the world. The violence of Jan 6, 2021 coming on top of increasing deaths and hospitalizations linked to Covid-19 offer a horrible context of anxiety for the lawmakers.

BBC linked photo

The whole transition of power period is worsened by warnings of threats of violence coming to DC and US State Capitols in the next few days. Sometimes fear is worse than reality--but not always.

BBC link / Getty Images

As Congress discovers that their members are work under death threats and that some of their own colleagues may have helped the rioters gain entry, they have a basis for high levels of anxiety. Add to this anxiety rumors that those who are supposed to protect them may have supported the rioters, the basis for paranoia arises.

We need a Congress that is able to work in a safe setting to conduct our business. We will need to do what we can to create a safer community where we live with the hope that our efforts spread across the country.