Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter" and "Governing America." (CNN) - Everyone talks about our broken political system. Washington is too polarized. Money dominates politics. Politicians don't know how to lead. Citizens are not as attentive to governance and public policy as they should be. Americans either ignore politics or see it is one more form of entertainment, "American Idol" on steroids.As a result, politicians get away with all kinds of misstatements and truths, in part because the electorate is so gullible.How do we make our democracy work better?Political reform will be essential to making sure that our institutions operate effectively. The news media needs to do a better job of separating truth from fiction and backing away from the increasingly partisan outlook of journalism. Civic organizations need to do more to make sure that voters are active in politics and, at a minimum, that they actually vote on Election Day....
SOURCE: Irish Times
UCD history professor Diarmaid Ferriter said plans to remove history as a compulsory subject under the new junior cycle programme were “very worrying for the future”.Would the student “be equipped to analyse effectively the present?”, he said as part of a History Teachers’ Association of Ireland delegation speaking to the Oireachtas education committee today.The Association expressed “grave concern” at the removal of their subject as compulsory under the new junior cycle programme. History “may not be offered” at junior level and “does not have to be offered under the statements of learning,” Association president Gerard Hanlon said referring to the criteria to be met under the planned junior cycle programme which is to change history from 2017.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK)
GCSEs will feature more British history, a study of classic literature and an increased focus on spelling, punctuation and grammar as part of a major drive to raise standards in schools, it was announced today.Qualifications sat by 16-year-olds in England will be dramatically overhauled to make exams comparable with the toughest tests sat elsewhere in the world, ministers claimed.A series of course documents published by the Department for Education showed that GCSEs – taught for the first time from 2015 – would place a renewed focus on traditional subject knowledge.The new history course will feature a minimum of 40 per cent British history – up from 25 per cent at the moment – and require pupils to show a basic understanding of chronology....
SOURCE: Times of India
NEW DELHI: Twenty history teachers from Delhi University's history department, including Shahid Amin, Nayanjot Lahiri and Prime Minister's daughter Upinder Singh, claimed in an open letter (read full text of the letter) that the public needs to know that the discussions on the new four-year-undergraduate programme were managed by the DU authority, not in a democratic and academic environment framed by university regulations, but in committees carefully screened by the administration. The signatories said the history department was distanced from the framing of the course structure of the FYUP and that it was kept in the dark during the making of the compulsory foundation courses. They said they weren't privy to the course contents until recently. The teachers made accusations of plagiarism in the foundation course on history. The letter started by saying that "since forums for academic discussion and debate in the university are no longer functioning, this letter from faculty members in the history department seeks to set the record straight on many details."...
SOURCE: Guardian (UK)
The education secretary, Michael Gove, has attacked a "culture of low expectations" in English schools, criticising the use of Mr Men characters in teaching 15 and 16-year-olds about Hitler.Too many teachers were treating "young people on the verge of university study as though they have the attention span of infants," Gove said. He said worksheets, extracts and mind maps had replaced whole books, sources and conversation in history and other subject lessons."As long as there are people in education making excuses for failure, cursing future generations with a culture of low expectations, denying children access to the best that has been thought and written, because Nemo and the Mr Men are more relevant, the battle needs to be joined," Gove said.
SOURCE: The Economist
FEW school subjects are so divisive. When Michael Gove, Britain’s education secretary, released draft changes to the country’s national curriculum in February it was his plan for history that created headlines. Mr Gove’s proposal called for history to be studied “as a coherent, chronological narrative”, beginning with the early Britons and ending with the cold war. Opponents said the syllabus overstressed the deeds of “posh white blokes” and underplayed those of minorities. “Unteachable, unlearnable and un-British” blasted a campaign group on April 10th. Rival camps of historians have published petitions and rowed on television. That shoot-out will last beyond the official consultation period, which closes next week.
SOURCE: The Atlantic
Robert Pondiscio is the executive director of CitizenshipFirst, a civic education initiative based in Harlem. He is also the former vice president of the Core Knowledge Foundation and a former 5th grade teacher.When the alarm is sounded over the poor performance of our schools, we usually hear about children's baleful performance in reading, math, and science. On the most recent round of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, for example, only one in three U.S. 8th graders scored "proficient" or higher in those three essential subjects. But if that's a crisis, our performance in history and civics is near collapse: a mere 22 percent of 8th graders score proficient or higher in civics; in history, only 18 percent.Last week, the Pioneer Institute released a white paper I wrote with Sandra Stotsky and Gilbert Sewall, Shortchanging the Future: The Crisis of History and Civics in American Schools. It traces a long spiral of decline in curriculum, textbooks, and pedagogy, leading to this present, dispiriting place.
SOURCE: Mariko Oi for the BBC
Mariko Oi is a reporter for the BBC.Japanese people often fail to understand why neighbouring countries harbour a grudge over events that happened in the 1930s and 40s. The reason, in many cases, is that they barely learned any 20th Century history. I myself only got a full picture when I left Japan and went to school in Australia.From Homo erectus to the present day - 300,000 years of history in just one year of lessons. That is how, at the age of 14, I first learned of Japan's relations with the outside world.For three hours a week - 105 hours over the year - we edged towards the 20th Century.It's hardly surprising that some classes, in some schools, never get there, and are told by teachers to finish the book in their spare time.When I returned recently to my old school, Sacred Heart in Tokyo, teachers told me they often have to start hurrying, near the end of the year, to make sure they have time for World War II....
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK)
Some 15 historians gave their backing to Mr Gove's proposals which will see schools teach more facts and events to ensure children develop what the Education Secretary calls a "connected narrative" of history.They wrote in the Times: “While these proposals will no doubt be adapted as a result of full consultation, the essential idea ... is a welcome one.”The new curriculum will see children taught, in chronological order, about key figures in British history that were dropped from the syllabus by the last Labour Government.Pupils will learn about events including the including the Norman Conquest, Henry II’s dispute with Thomas Becket, the Black Death, the Wars of the Roses, and execution of Charles I, the union with Scotland and the rise and fall of the British Empire....
SOURCE: Houston Chronicle
Saying that more role models could help alleviate the social estrangement and high suicide rates of gay students, the California Senate voted last week to teach the historical contributions of gays in the U.S.If approved by the state Assembly and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the measure, the first of its kind nationwide, could once again stake out California in the vanguard on gay civil rights.California's Legislature last year became the first to authorize gay marriage, but Schwarzenegger vetoed the measure. He hasn't taken a public position on the textbook bill.Books meeting the bill's requirements would be incorporated into California classes in 2012. Social science courses would include "age-appropriate study" of the "role and contributions" that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have made to the "economic political and social development" of California and the U.S.Schools are already required to teach the historical and social roles of blacks, women, American Indians, Hispanics, Asians and other ethnic groups.
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