Americans' Lack of Education in History Is a Worry .

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by jlai, Oct 1, 2011.

  1. numbers123

    numbers123 Well-Known Member

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    I would say that she has a right to be in this situation. Considering that my parents were born in the 30's, I know what age taf is and she is nowhere near the 80's age group.
     
  2. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    ITA. But one of the problems with history is how it is taught, with an emphasis on important figures, events and dates. History is much more interesting when looked at from the vantage point of how events impacted people's lives and the norms and values that characterize societies. I hated history in grade school because there was nothing interesting about it.

    If history teachers made use of non-textbook teaching tools such as films, TV series and exhibits, history would come to life to students. I'm fascinated by historical fiction, movies, and TV series (i.e. Rome and Poldark, Philippa Gregory's work on the Tudor queens). Granted, fiction and film are not always historically accurate (which needs to be addressed if they are used as teaching tools), but they provide a window on history which really stimulates the imagination and prompts individuals to learn more about history.

    And primary sources from periods can be fascinating as well.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2011
  3. jlai

    jlai Title-less

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    Chinese history is often taught like that. IMHO, the curriculum and content I was exposed to was okay. It's the methodology, with facts first and connecting the dots later, that I have had an issue with--for there are thousands of years of dates and places to cover, with a mental coversion to Western dates and modern place names currently running in your head. It's really really daunting.

    OTOH, with history taught in the US I have more an issue with the curriculum and coverage (from politically driven textbooks and curriculum to lack of adequate world history lessons).
     
  4. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

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    If her father served in WWII, she is most definitely NOT of that generation. :lol:

    I thought the generations were loosely defined as, Greatest Generation: served in WWII. Silent Generation: born before WWII but too young to serve in it. Baby Boomers: Children of WWII vets. Between Boomer and GenX: Children of Silent Generation. Generation X: Children of Silent Generation and Boomers. Generation Y/Millennials: Children of Generation X.

    I was born in 1980, and I cling to Generation X (usually defined as 1965-1982 but sometimes people cut it off at 1979) :lol: I'm not Gen Y, I'm not! *stamps feet*
     
  5. jlai

    jlai Title-less

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    I think the more recent the history the more info we have, and there's more coverage available on Empress Dowager Cixi than, errr, the author of Dao Te Ching.

    But that changes when it gets, errr...too recent or too politically touchy.

    I always wonder if people are comparing different things. An older person could be comparing what 9th graders are learning now to get an A to what they had to do to get an A in the same class in the same grade (grade inflation factor coming into play here), versus, what the young and the old are remembering at the same point in time.

    Relative poverty exists in all countries though. I suspect how different countries handle disadvantaged students may be the difference here.

    But then I also think formal academic education is overvalued... Or else Finland will come on top economically. :shuffle: Besides, with more knowlege comes preconceived ideas on how things happen or should happen and the cultural baggage that comes with it...
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2011
  6. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    I think they are comparing two different things, as school bears little resemblance to school in the past.

    But again, if people were so well educated before and grade inflation makes such a difference now, then older college students shouldn't be the ones taking remedial classes. Yet they are. So are far too many youngins. But the youngins as a group do a lot better in that regard than the older students do.

    And again, that makes sense. But it sure doesn't support the idea that people learned more and better in the past.

    Of course it does, but other developed countries do not have the extremes that we have in this country and have stronger social safety nets to offset their relative poverty than we do here. The single best predictor of academic success in the US is the financial status of the family.
     
  7. taf2002

    taf2002 Texas slumlord

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    Actually I'm not. But I really don't appreciate being told I'm a contemporary of people born in the 30's.
     
  8. taf2002

    taf2002 Texas slumlord

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    Actually I'm not. But I really don't appreciate being told I'm a contemporary of people born in the 30's.
     
  9. Cyn

    Cyn Well-Known Member

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    Not that it's a bastion of reliability, but Wikipedia has a page that defines the timeline of the Generations of the 20th Century.

    According to this site, you fall on the Gen XY cusp, which is described as follows:

    I was born in 1967, and I don't particularly like being lumped in with the Generation X group because for me, the term will always be associated with that stupid movie, Reality Bites :wall: .

    I much prefer to refer to myself as being part of the MTV Generation, though there's a lot of debate as to what year constitutes the beginning of this group. It varies from those born in the late 60's (who were in their early teens when MTV first hit the air) to those born in 1981, when MTV first launched.

    Here's a link to an article that delves into the Gen X/Gen Y debate with an analysis based on both psychology and statistics of these age ranges: A Psychographic Analysis of Generation Y College Students.(Statistical Data Included). According to this, I fall into the MTV Generation (and a whole bunch of other labels :lol: ).

    According to this chart, I fall into the MTV Generation (those born in 1965 through 1981), also making me part of Generation X. Those born in 1982 through 2000 are considered members of Generation Y, also known as "Echo Boomers" or the "Millennium Generation.

    Do a google search - you'll find enough discussions, debates, and arguments to either help you decide which group you fit into, or leave you in a state of complete confusion :rofl: .

    *******

    As to the whole discussion about foreign language being taught to children, when they begin learning them, and their effects, I can't offer much to it, but my daughter's, who is now 15, and my oldest niece, who is in 2nd Grade, both started learning a foreign language starting in 1st grade (the language taught in both of their school districts is/was German). In MiniCyn's case, she studied German all five years she was in Elementary school and was part of the Honors German Program at her school, but when we moved out of Atlanta to North Georgia, I was shocked to discover that Foreign Language wasn't part of the curriculum at the Middle School, and at her High School, the only languages offered are Spanish and Latin :wall:.

    It was shocking to me because the public school district I went to in Elementary School (K - 7th Grade), though I only attended it in 7th Grade (having attended a Jewish Private School through 6th Grade, in which we were taught Hebrew in 1st - 6th Grade), French was taught as part of the regular curriculum starting in 1st Grade. When I started High School (which was 8th - 12th Grades as there weren't any Middle Schools in the district at that time) in the Fall of 1980, in the same public school district, the Foreign Language Department offered French, Spanish, German, and Latin (with an Honors Program for French and Spanish).
     
  10. Karina1974

    Karina1974 Well-Known Member

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    But the problem with defining generations that way, is that there is a lot of cross-over. My father, for instance, was born in 1939. His other siblings were born in 1934, 1936, 1941, 1943 and 1948. Their father (my paternal grandfather, born 1908) served in the Pacific in WWII. To use the definitions above, aside from the 2 youngest, are they Silent Generation or Baby Boomers? And, technically, Dad (and his sister born August 1941) was born during WWII, not before it (there lies another history question: how many people out there think that WWII started with Pearl Harbor?).
     
  11. Karina1974

    Karina1974 Well-Known Member

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    (Seeing as how it was our exchange that seems to have prompted this) - My parents are only about 10 years older than you are, 74 and 72 (as of 11/2). That's not so much of a stretch. 1930's to 1950's - that I could understand, but 10 years? I agree with Ag, you're being touchy.
     
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  12. taf2002

    taf2002 Texas slumlord

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    jamesy and (deleted member) like this.
  13. Karina1974

    Karina1974 Well-Known Member

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    :rolleyes:

    Sad to see that, at least in one case, that there is age discrimination even amongst the 60-and-over segment of the population. Equally sad that your juvenile photo link is the "best" response you could come up with.

    Whatever. I'm sticking a fork in this exchange, because it's done.
     
  14. taf2002

    taf2002 Texas slumlord

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    Good. Most women would know instinctively that other women don't like to be thought of as older than they actually are. And I doubt anyone wants to be told they are old enough to be your mother even if it could be true.

    I'm not surprised at your lack of sensitivity...after all, you mocked a woman with cancer.
     
  15. Karina1974

    Karina1974 Well-Known Member

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    Maybe because I'm one of those women who says "who the feck cares?" I turn 40 in 3 years and 19 days. I'm not worried. I look a heel of a lot better approaching 40 than I did when I turned 30, that's for sure. I also don't waste my life keeping track of the inane things perfect strangers say online.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2011
  16. taf2002

    taf2002 Texas slumlord

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    Clueless, like talking to a stone wall. Oh well, ignore is there for a reason.
     
  17. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

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    I think you're BOTH dragging this thread to hell in a handbasket, so take your issues with each other to PM. :blah:
     
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  18. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

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    I am going to take a different stance and call bullsh1t on the entire survey. I have seen these sorts of surveys before and I think they are purposely designed to confuse people.

    The thing is, we remember facts in context. As soon as you take away the context, most people have trouble remembering. Throw in a confusing or misleading question and you end up with some pretty wild responses.

    In this case, there is no such country as "America" so that means the question was invalid to being with. In fact, given that there is no such country, I think the people who pointed to the word "America" were the only people who answered the question correctly as that is the only "America" on that map.

    It's all that knitting. Craaaazzzyyy! ;)

    As for knowing Canadian cities, my first response to the statement that most of us don't know the "three big" Canadian cities was: there are only 3? Because I can name more than 3 big cities in Canada. My second response was "Big in terms of what? Population, importance to history, revenues? geography?

    I don't think it's mostly lack of effort. I think it's that we don't have many opportunities to practice so what we do learn falls out of our brain. Many of us were exposed to other languages in school at young ages. Some of us pursued learning a particular language and may even at one time been proficient in it. But most of us have no reason to use another language on a daily basis and, if you don't use another language regular, you forget it.

    For example, I started learning Spanish in Junior High. (Grade 7, age 12 for those not familiar with that term.) I lived on the East Coast and that was the most common of the foreign languages being spoken in my area so it seemed the most practical language to learn. Therefore, when I got a choice in HS, I continued in Spanish. I got to be fluent enough that I had a summer job where speaking Spanish was a plus (but not required) and I tested out of my college's foreign language requirement. But I still took a semester in college.

    But I was in the Midwest then so my opportunities to use Spanish in a natural way were severely limited. By the time I ended up in California -- a place where Spanish is spoken more than in other parts of the country, I had forgotten most of what I knew.

    I have since audited a Spanish class when my son was doing it as part of his Home Schooling experience and I have many more opportunities to see and speak Spanish now but I don't NEED to understand Spanish to get by and so it really hasn't come back. Plus, I learned Spanish from a Puerto Rican and it's enough different from Mexican Spanish that even what I do know isn't necessarily going to work for me.

    It's possible if I was born and raised in California that I would have retained more but it's also quite likely that the pressure of having to learn other things for my job would have made remembering Spanish a small enough priority and I still would be where I am now.

    I think it's more likely that when people say they don't use what they learn they are thinking of "what they learned" in a much more restricted way than you are. IOW, they are thinking of the many facts they learned that they no longer remember because they don't use them and not the general skills which many attribute to "everyone knows that" just like we all know how to walk.

    After all, most of us know how to add and subtract and use those skills often. So we can't honestly say we don't use anything from our K-12 education. But I don't argue the true meaning of a certain passage in Hamlet or calculate derivatives or name different kinds of mold spores in either my everyday life or my job. In fact, my job is in computers and I never took a formal class in that area until college and, even if I had, the languages and tools and even concepts are all different now (we didn't have object-oriented languages when I was in school).

    And a lot of that is that the pool of people taking these tests splits at about that age. As you mentioned, lots of other countries split out the college bound by now so those kids who aren't college bound aren't even taking the test.

    This is pretty helpful but the "children of" designations are not going to be accurate. For example, my kids are Millennials but I am a Baby Boomer not Gen X. Also, according to that wiki article, some people would consider at least one of my kids to be Gen Z.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2011
  19. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    Or, in the case of Spanish, jobs in many fields within medicine, or marketing in the US (bilingual labels and other materials), or government (talking to constituents), or art history/archaeology/museum work (when the focus is on Latin America, etc.), or customer service, or retail, or any of a ton of other fields. I think that most people don't realize how useful a knowledge of Spanish can be in many fields in the US, in many regions of the US. In many cases, it can either enhance your ability to get hired, or else if not required, it can help you in your job.
     
  20. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

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    In the case of a few other languages depending on where you live too. Chinese (both Mandarin and Cantonese) are also useful here in Northern California.
     
  21. jlai

    jlai Title-less

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    Not directly related but somewhat relevant, English tests and lessons are becoming so popular in China the Chinese decided to compete against English popularity with yet, another test.
    http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2011/09/29/in-battle-to-save-chinese-its-test-vs-test/?

    I think they don't get it. It's the prestige factor that students covet.
    Which brings us to another facet of foreign language education--you can't just bring the language; the culture has to come with it, so in some way popularity of English and the Anglophile culture is at the expense of local cultures. What to do? That's the million dollar question.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2011
  22. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, generations aren't super clear cut, that's why I said "loosely defined". I'm a child of definite baby boomers (1949) who had children in their 30s. I'm the oldest (1980) and would be Gen X/MTV, but my sister (1982) and especially my brother (1986) would be considered Gen Y. We'd all be Gen X if my parents had us in their 20s/1970s.

    Yup, especially since people are having children later in life than in previous times. If you're a late boomer (1960s births), your kids are going to skip into the next generation. It's impossible to define these things clearly, which is why we get the disagreements :)
     
  23. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    It also depends on who is defining the generation. Some would include me as a boomer (born in 1961) and some wouldn't. And some would class me as Generation Jones (which amuses me, as that's my maiden name), which is something of a bridge between the boomers and Gen-X.

    In those "what generation are you" tests, I come out on the high end of Gen X and borderline Gen Y because of my technology use.

    I think classifying generations is useful in terms of discussing generalities, but, as with other statistical classifications, they aren't at all helpful when applied to individuals.
     
  24. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

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    I am a baby boomer by everyone's accounting but I don't feel like I am. It feels like the kids 4-10 years ahead of me were the real boomers. My husband is too by some reckonings but he completely doesn't feel like one at all. (He was born in 64 and I think that's way too late to be considered a true boomer. He wasn't even born when Kennedy was shot! And has no clear memories of MLK being assassinated either!)

    But I also come out Gen X/Y on those tests (depending on the test) which leads me to my complaint... people really love those classifications and the accompanying stereotypes.

    My former company was making a video about how great it was to work there and they wanted video testimonials to support the theme of "4 generations all working together". I volunteered because I wanted to spread the message of "I'm glad to be in the workforce now because accommodations being made for Gen X and Millennials help me as not everyone is 'true' to their generational stereotype" but it became very clear they didn't want to hear that. They wanted people my age to talk about going to Woodstock (I was too young) and listening to classic rock (not my thing). So I bailed on the project...
     
  25. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

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    Interesting! I'd never heard of Generation Jones.
     
  26. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    And aren't these "generations" culture specific? E.g., the events that serve as landmarks (time marks?) dividing the end of one generation and the beginning of the next would vary depending on what part of the world one was born in. "MTV Generation" certainly makes no sense for people who were born and grew up in a part of the world that didn't receive MTV.

    Aside from anything that obvious, there are going to be so many exceptions that at best they can only be used as rough generalizations. I don't see the point in trying to define them too specifically.
     
  27. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

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    These are descriptions of generations in the US. They were never meant to describe global generations.
     
  28. Karina1974

    Karina1974 Well-Known Member

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    Which would make me, personally, even more of an oddball as compared to the kids I went to school with. I wonder how many of those kids were raised listening to Harry Belafonte, Theodore Bikel, Pete Seeger, Miriam & Steven (Israeli music), Mike & Elsa (Norwegian music), Miriam Makeba, Judy Collins, Peter, Paul and Mary and the Kingston Trio, as well as the soundtracks to various movies like Zorba the Greek and the original Broadway casts of West Side Story and Fiddler on the Roof. I knew more about my parents' culture than I did my own as a kid and, as an adult, I dived headlong into that while keeping my eye on what's going on in the real world. What I like is that I can listen to folk music and not worry about being considered "uncool" like I would have been 20-some years ago.

    Oh, and somewhere in my youth I also figured out that classic and silent movies were my cup of tea as well. Am I the only one who remembers watching Matinee at the Bijou?
     
  29. numbers123

    numbers123 Well-Known Member

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    All those generation tests are someone's idea of where a person fits. When I take them I have some silent generation, the greatest generation, baby boomers, gen x and gen y. My physical age puts me in the definite baby boomers era.

    And Karina - I think that most of us grew up with different music genre than what was considered the typical music for our generation. I grew up with classical, country - as much country as one could be, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, show tunes, Dean Martin, Perry Como, and my own generation of Elvis, Beatles, etc. I listened the 1980/s, 1990's and 2000's. Each era I have favorites songs. I don[t think one has to be snooty about what they grew up with and how lacking everyone else's growing years is. And watching silent movies and appreciating them doesn't mean that you are superior to anyone else's preferences.
     
  30. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    Boomers are babies born in the post-WWII baby boom. The fathers fought in the war. As the war ended in 1945 and men who fought in it were between 20 and 30, more or less, their children could have been born up until 1965.

    However, not all children born in that time period had fathers who fought in the war. Mr. Japanfan was born in 1963 to a mom and dad who were both 20. His dad was too young to have gone to war, so technically he's not a baby boomer.

    Part of the distinction is the post-war mentality. My parents both lived through the war and this gave them a particular perspective that people who didn't live through the war lacked. The men who survived the war are a distinct group and much has been written about their silence about what they went through as they celebrated what they believed would be a more peaceful and prosperous time. Many were damaged as soldiers and became what has been called the silent generation (Hemingway wrote about that). That generation is also marked by memories of the Great Depression. However, young people who lived through the war were also impacted by it - for example, rationing in Great Britain during the war made some people hoarders, just as my mom who lived through both the Great Depression and the war was a hoarder (her pantry with all its canned and processed goods was amazing).

    So I define a boomer as one whose parents lived through the war and one whose dad fought in the war - though I must acknowledge the involvement of women in the war as Wrens or in other roles.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011