We're Teaching History Wrong
The way history is taught in U.S. high schools should be completely overhauled. For the vast majority of students, history is presented as a litany of disconnected names, dates, and events to be memorized before an exam. Their other core subjects—English, science, and math—almost always pull in students who love reading or enjoy the intricate pleasures of numbers and theories. However, it is the rare student who finds anything edifying or relevant about history as it is taught in our classrooms today.
My perspective is unusual. I tutor New York City students in a poor area of Brooklyn who, in spite of passing their other state-mandated regents' exams in core subjects, have repeatedly failed their history exams and, therefore, cannot receive a high school diploma.
Take a student I'll call Tony, for example. He's 20 years old with a 4-year-old son. He's covered in tattoos: The two most visible are on his neck and left hand. They both spell the name of his son. He sports two long silky black braids, is very skinny, and wears pants that hang around mid-thigh. I don't know whether his drooping pants are a fashion statement or the result of his inability to afford a belt small enough to hold them up. Tony is desperate to pass this history exam because without a high school diploma, he will count himself lucky if he continues to be offered occasional work...
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