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Location: Sitting inside a TV truck, Somewhere, more then likely in the Southeastern region, United States

I am a grouchy, bald headed old fart filled with opinions and not the least bit shy about sharing them.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Here's what's wrong with the way history is taught in the United States

While perusing audio books to restock my supply of driving companions, I came across Dangerous Games: The Uses and Abuses of History by Dr. Margaret MacMillan

Allow me to quote the Publisher's Summary:

The winner of many prestigious awards for her scholarship, historian Margaret MacMillan is also the New York Times best-selling author of Paris 1919. In Dangerous Games, she illustrates how history should never be presented as a series of facts, but instead as a framing device for understanding the past.

As professional 21st-century historians cede the literary field to the popular amateur, history and its meanings become muddled - especially in the punditocracy championed by modern media. Copious amounts of cherry-picked facts and manufactured heroes are used to create a narrative rather than give any insight into past events. MacMillan offers an antidote to this by providing the necessary tools to help interpret history in constructive ways.

Let me repeat the important part of that: "history should never be presented as a series of facts, but instead as a framing device for understanding the past." I hope and pray those reading this blog can see what is wrong with that idea.

This is the same problem with today's versions of journalism. We no longer get the unvarnished facts. Instead we get a patch work of facts designed to be a framework to better our understanding of the reporter's, producer's and managing editor's point of view.

The only difference between history and news is that one is far more recent then the other. I want both of those things in their raw, unvarnished form. I don't want key points glossed over or left out. I don't want other things blown way out of proportion. I damn sure don't want someone else to tell me what I should think about these facts.

This just keeps getting worse and worse…


"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."
- George Orwell

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