What is Knowledge Keepers? It’s a movement that I created in the hope of saving western civilization, and I hope you will join me.
Friends, we have a crisis. We have a generation of Americans growing up without any real education in history. We all know it. We laugh at the talk show hosts who interview clueless college students on the street. We cringe a little when they don’t know who won the American Revolution or that World War 1 ever took place. School districts and state boards of education can change the history as they see fit. We know something’s wrong, but we aren’t sure what to do about it. And we probably think it’s just a school book problem. The lack of proper history instruction in schools IS a big problem.
But it’s not the only problem.
As I prepared to teach a class for my local homeschool co-op this week, I went to search for a few photographs of American inventors. I usually search Google Images and pull photos for my Power Point Presentation.
Here’s what Google gave me:
Tell me what you notice about this group of inventors. Now, look what I get when I click on “Images.”
If you want to know about American inventors, Google assumes you only want the black inventors. And if not, you have to specify “white” or “white male” inventors. So, I took the bait. (I’m sure Google will remember that search, too, and probably to my detriment.) Here’s what I got:
I was really surprised. When I brought it up in the evening with my family, we did the search again and discovered that others have noticed, too. Read this piece: Great Moments in Google: “American Inventors” by Steve Sailer.
It’s one more nauseating case of revisionist history with an agenda. You have to choose which race you want to learn about, instead of just getting all the cool history facts.
Now, I knew the names of many inventors who changed the world. I knew what to look for. I was searching for photos of Ben Franklin, Eli Whitney, Elias Howe, the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Steve Jobs. I had to do an individual search for each one to get their photo or their inventions.
But what about the generation of school children who are apparently not learning about these people? How do they search online for something they do not know?
Great Big Gaps in History
This reminded me of the curriculum I used to teach from for VIPKID. I was an ESL teacher to Chinese children. We used curriculum provided by the company, and it’s aligned to American Common Core. For the upper level students, we taught about history and culture, both American and Chinese, for English practice.
Guess which two historic figures are taught in the American history section?
Harriet Tubman and George Washington Carver. Oh, and for a bit of fun, we get to teach about Johnny Appleseed and Paul Bunyun.
In a 2017 opinion piece in the New York Post, Karol Markowicz explores the lack of history education in even the best New York City public schools. In her daughter’s case,
“So far, she has encountered no mention of any historical figure except for Martin Luther King Jr. This isn’t a knock on King, obviously. He’s a hero in our house. But he can’t be the sum total of historical figures our kids learn about in even early elementary school.”
Markowicz absolutely nails the problem on the head when she states:
“For one thing, how do we tell King’s story without telling the story of the Founding Fathers, the Constitution or of Abraham Lincoln? King’s protests were effective because they were grounded in the idea that America was supposed to be something specific, that the Constitution said so — and that we weren’t living up to those ideals.”
History is a combined story of all the people and all the events that happened over the history of the world. Leaving any person or event out is leaving out very important parts of the story. Each event leads to another. Each person in history was influenced by his parents and grandparents and their grandparents. Each person was influenced by the events of their time.
Consider your favorite story or novel. What would it be like if someone removed big chunks of it because they didn’t like the characters or the events? It wouldn’t be the same story at all. It would’t even make sense. That’s what school textbooks are doing. That’s what children’s books are doing. And that’s what search engines are even doing.
In an age in which “library” is spelled G-o-o-g-l-e, accepting false information as truth is an everyday classroom occurrence. Responding to teachers’ queries about how they “know” that [Barack Obama] was born in Kenya or that the Mossad (or George Bush himself) plotted 9/11, students (our so-called digital natives) blithely respond, “I found it on the Internet.” (Sam Wineburg, Changing the Teaching of History, One Byte at at Time)
In a 1985 New York Times article called Decline and Fall of Teaching History, Diane Ravitch accurately states:
Wow. She wrote this in 1985. And look where we are some 30 years later. “Without historical perspective, voters are more likely to be swayed by emotional appeals, by stirring commercials, or by little more than a candidate’s good looks or charisma.” You know, if they vote at all.
It’s abundantly clear that history is being revised and erased in schools, libraries, online, and even with monuments.
What’s my point? Why do I care?
I am concerned, even outraged, because if you can’t count on schools to teach history, and now you can’t even adequately look it up online for your children or with your children, what’s left?
What is the hope for preserving western civilization?
Real books. The old books. The original sources for what happened before are the only means left to preserving western civilization.
A home library is the answer. We must be the knowledge keepers for our own family, and for generations to come. We have to seek out the old books and make room for them in our homes. You can’t count on schools. You can’t even count on the internet. And you would be shocked to find what your local library discards as no longer relevant.
The Great Books
Wikipedia defines the Great Conversation as the ongoing process of writers and thinkers referencing, building on, and refining the work of their predecessors. It is also the title of the first book in a set of books published in 1952 by Encyclopedia Britannica that comprise some of the most important works in Western Civilization.
The volumes include the complete works of John Locke, Homer, Hippocrates, William Shakespeare, Freud, Karl Marx, Faraday, Galileo, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Johannes Kepler, Tolstoy, Dante, and so many more. Volume 1 is entitled The Great Conversation and is an excellent read on education.
It’s an amazing set of books. I have a partial set myself, and so does my oldest daughter. We both continuously search for the volumes we are missing. If you can find a set, or a partial set, I highly recommend adding it to your home library. I see them at book sales and in antique stores all the time. It’s a complete foundation in western thought, and it’s far superior to any textbook that only explores a few paragraphs from each author.
The editors of this project wrote: “Until lately the West has regarded it as self-evident that the road to education lay through great books. We believe that in the passage of time the neglect of these books in the twentieth century will be regarded as an aberration, and not, as it is sometimes called today, a sign of progress. We think that progress, and progress in education in particular, depends on the incorporation of the ideas and images included in this set in the daily lives of all of us, from childhood through old age. In this view of the disappearance of great books from education and from the reading of adults constitutes a calamity. In this view education in the West has been steadily deteriorating; the rising generation has been deprived of its birthright; the mess of pottage it has received in exchange has not been nutritious; adults have come to lead lives comparatively rich in material comforts and very poor in moral, intellectual, and spiritual tone.” (Hutchins, 1952)
Thomas Jefferson, as well as his contemporaries, were students of the Great Conversation up to their current time. That’s why they understood people, governments, and the nature of law. The editors of this 1952 series of books went on to say that “these books shed some light on all our basic problems, and that it is folly to do without any light we can get. We think that these books show the origins of many of our most serious difficulties…We think that the reader who does his best to understand these books will find himself led to read and helped to understand other books.” (Hutchins, 1952)
It’s time to go in search of the books that tell the whole stories, the journals, the documents, and the letters. We must find them, buy them, and save them. These books are often still available to purchase in used condition. Some old and classic books have been reprinted in paperback. Find books printed before you were born. Look up used book stores, library book sales, garage sales, and thrift shops. That’s where you’ll find the best stuff.
Stop using old books as shabby, vintage decor. Stop using bookcases for vases and cheap art. Fill the book cases with actual books. Rearrange your house to include a library. Start small, and keep building. Make it your new hobby.
Read the books. Educate yourself and then educate your children and grandchildren.
It’s literally up to you and me.
We have begun a project of republishing old, out-of-print books that tell the true story of American history, as well as used copies of great books that are still in print. Check out our collection and join us in the home library revolution.