There is perhaps no other person or group of people so grossly misrepresented in American History as the Pilgrims (unless it’s Christopher Columbus). Modern historians describe for us their greed and lust, their domination, and their zealous forcing of religion on everyone around them. We are made to feel guilty for descending from them, and reaping the rewards of the nation for which they laid the foundations. Modern historians would have us believe that the Indians were weak, helpless natives overrun by tyrannical, greedy Englishmen bent on conquering the vast American wilderness. Ah, but then there’s the truth.
|“The Embarkation of the Pilgrims” (1857) by the American painter
Robert Walter Weir at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City
With regard to world history, [Donna Hearne, former Reagan official in the U.S. Department of Education] says as far back as the 1930s there was a movement to collect and write curricula that would be hostile to America. The Frankfurt School– which was the source of Critical Theory – was developed with the goal of advancing Marxist philosophy in Germany. Following the Nazi takeover, the FrankfurtSchool eventually moved to New York and Columbia University.
- There is a definite revision of history, especially American, taught to our public school children today.
- The use of “supplemental resources” (websites, professional workshops, etc.) excludes history curriculum from scrutiny and oversight because no two school districts or history teachers are presenting material in the same way.
- Large numbers of history teachers are actually not trained to teach history, leaving them to accept any instructional materials for their classroom use without verifying the facts.
But most of its specimens share these features: under the guise of heightening teachers’ and students’ awareness of previously marginalized groups, they manipulate teachers (and, thus, their pupils) to view the history of freedom as the history of oppression and to be more sympathetic to cultures that don’t value individual rights than to those that do.
People can also teach themselves history, pick it up from their reading, the History Channel, even movies. The key is to insist that, however they learn it, tomorrow’s teachers must know it—and demonstrate this—before confronting children in the classroom.
The source of the problem with many of the supplemental resources used for history or social studies is the ideological mission of the organizations that create them. Their ostensible goal is to combat intolerance, expand students’ knowledge of other cultures, give them other “points of view” on commonly studied historical phenomena, and/or promote “critical thinking.” But their real goal, to judge by an analysis of their materials and the effects they have on teachers, is to influence how children come to understand and think about current social and political issues by bending historical content to those ends.
The purpose of the 1994 [Facing History and Ourselves] resource book, bearing the same title as the 1982 manual but with a new conceptual framework, is to make sure that students see the task of confronting white racism in America as the chief reason for studying the Holocaust.6 It makes explicit and frequent comparisons not only between twentieth-century America and twentieth-century Germany but also between nineteenth century America and nineteenth-century Germany. In essence, it uses the Holocaust to portray America’s blacks as Europe’s Jews, thereby reducing genocide to an act of bigotry and equating white Americans to Nazis.
We do know, though, that teachers have been increasingly encouraged by their professional organizations to use videos of television programs or films in their classes to compensate for the inability of many high school students to read their history textbooks or primary documents with adequate comprehension.
The daily lives and fates of the many Native American tribes have been perhaps the greatest beneficiary of this sociocultural approach, which now occupies much instructional time. With it, however, comes a strongly negative view of the Europeans who explored and colonized the Americas. Supplemental resources now guide teachers to downplay or ignore altogether what students should be learning about the origins and development of our civic culture.
Appendix C contains the most manipulative set of teacher-created lessons I saw. It has not one academic objective. Instead of “The Wampanoag,” the lessons could have been titled “How to Cultivate Hatred of the Pilgrims.” The teacher clearly intends to make sure her students end up with no “misconceptions” about the Pilgrims, even grading them for parroting the politically correct response. What is especially chilling about this lesson was that not one teacher in the group saw anything remarkable about it. None raised a question about the flagrantly loaded nature of the quiz questions, at least while I was present.
Click HERE to read Part Two.
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Nicki Truesdell is a 2nd-generation homeschooler and mother to 5. She loves books, freedom, history and quilts, and blogs about all of these at nickitruesdell.com. She believes that homeschooling can be relaxed and that history is fun, and both can be done with minimal cost or stress, no matter your family’s circumstances. Nicki is a member of the Texas Home Educators Advisory Board and The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew. You can also find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.