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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Those Who Forget Their History...

Are doomed to repeat it. So the saying goes.  Apparently whoever spoke this first was a Prophet from Delphi, because test scores show that US high school students, 2/3 of them, have no idea about the history of the country they live in.  Less than half of all high school seniors have no freakin idea about our system of government.

Oh yes, these precious snowflakes are so very special.  So very shortbus special.  Dumbasses.

I resented having to spend so much time on US History in school.  I mean, hell, we only had 200 years of our Constitution and World history was one year in high school... the whole rest of the world warrants one year of education within our public school curriculum.  So not only have we raised generations of idiots about our own country, they're not even really aware that there are other countries on this planet. These are your ugly Americans.  These are the folks who go on hiking tours after graduation and aren't really sure which hostile country they are in.

Well done, Public Education.  Well done, indeed.

It is important to remember why the Magna Carta was signed by a less than happy King John.  It's important to understand Charlemagne and why Mirovingian is more than something out of a Matrix movie.  Do you even understand the significance of Mirovince? Do you understand the significance of Salian Francs and how they influenced so many wars in the Dark Ages?  Do you have any idea why it's never a good idea to enter into any sort of trade agreement with the Chinese?  Have you ever heard of the Boxer Rebellion?

I come from a family of history buffs.  We all read books about history, watched documentaries... hell, my younger sister majored in the damned subject.  My oldest son knows more about ancient Asian history than most folks they drag onto The History Channel.  He is fond of correcting me about vases.  But he knows his history.  Yes, I do have one child that isn't really sure that there are countries other than the US, but the doubt comes from the fact that she has met people from other countries that aren't Mexico.  There is one in every family.

I am reminded of the movie made from Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time when people who knew Hawking as a boy and said that the entire family read books at table. They all remarked that family discussions all revolved around books they were reading.  I remember being amazed.  The table was the one place I was forbidden to read books.  We talked.  Mostly about stupid day to day things, but we talked.  We didn't text, grunt, point or sulk at the table.  We would have been cuffed viciously for being so rude.

The reason that made such an impression on me is that the adults and children were all engaged in an educational process without ever realizing it.  If you have a question about something you asked and if no one knew the answer, they knew they could find it somewhere.  This was in the dark days before Wikipedia and the Startling Truth of the Internet.  Yes, we had to go to the library and resort to the research section of the library with the books you couldn't check out.  Oh we knew how to make the most of shorthand, and we also knew that we could go off on tangents during the search just as easily as we do now on the internet.  We always learned more than we set out to know.  And overall, we grew from that knowledge and became more aware of our world.

We are the last of a dying breed.  We are people who understand South Africa and its struggles.  We know which King Louis built Versailles, why a German king was made Holy Roman Emperor, and who the Merovingians were.

It's also why we know that The US Constitution is unique and precious and the most important document ever created by human beings. 

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