The evolution of teaching U.S. history | Firearms Lawyer

Public school professionals place so much emphasis on diversity, tolerance and cultural understanding.

Public school professionals place so much emphasis on diversity, tolerance and cultural understanding. How much classroom time is left to learn the facts about how our nation came to be?

Even though schools teach about U.S. history, at least one Federal Way teacher has indicated there is no way to define “traditional American” educational values.

A colleague and I recently interviewed three students about American history. All three are in the Cambridge Program at Federal Way High School. The first student, a 10th-grader, was fairly sure that World War II occurred before the Civil War. The other two students seemed somewhat uncertain. Keep in mind that the Cambridge Program offers students the opportunity to earn the Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE), which is similar to the International Baccalaureate certificate.

The students were aware that the Industrial Revolution occurred in more than one country, and seemed to have a fairly good idea as to when it began. All three students agreed that the Boston Massacre occurred in connection with the Revolutionary War. None of the students knew which nations participated in the French and Indian War, but the name of that war is misleading — we should have referred to it as the Seven Years War.

Incidentally, the test that we used to identify appropriate subject matter was designed for Texas eighth-graders and requires detailed knowledge of things like the Seven Years War. Despite the fact that I have read a whole book about the Seven Years War, I had a hard time answering many of the questions on the test. So we decided to make the questions considerably easier.

A ninth-grader recollected after several awkward moments that the Civil War occurred before World War II. She remembered what she had learned about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.

I asked whether the students had heard of John Brown, a radical abolitionist. Harriet Tubman helped John Brown recruit men for his armed raid on Harpers Ferry, a raid on a federal armory to obtain additional weapons in order to arm blacks and free the slaves on Southern plantations. John Brown’s raid was in my kids’ U.S. history curriculum. None of the three students knew anything about John Brown or the raid. Most historians agree that the unsuccessful uprising made the differences between Northern abolitionists and Southern slaveholders impossible to resolve without war.

The questions that we asked, and the format of the interview, were far from scientific. We purposely avoided questions about specific dates. Nevertheless, our tentative conclusion is that diversity studies and cultural awareness are the main source of the minimal information our best students are able to access regarding the time sequences of important events in U.S. history. Try asking some questions about U.S. history at home with your students and let us know what you think. Everyone can benefit by deeper understanding of how we all came to be the United States of America.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
How George Floyd’s death is changing history | Roegner

The death of George Floyd at the knee of Minneapolis Police Officer… Continue reading

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He recently retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Rethinking a natural gas ban in Washington state | Brunell

Sometimes being first isn’t good. Such is the case with legislation making… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Politics and the Sound Transit Board’s big decision for South King County | Roegner

Fortunately, the Sound Transit Board of Directors will make the final decision… Continue reading

Keith Livingston is a longtime Federal Way resident and community observer. He can be reached at keithlivingstondesign@gmail.com.
Police blotter blues and our sense of accountability | Livingston

Reading the police blotter in any newspaper proves that we as people… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Democrats, Republicans, budgets and taxes | Roegner

Because the Democrats control the state’s House, Senate and the Governor’s Office,… Continue reading

Jayendrina Singha Ray is a PhD (ABD) in English, with a research focus on the works of the South African Nobel Laureate John Maxwell Coetzee. She teaches English Composition and Research Writing at Highline College, WA, and has previously taught English at colleges in India.
Asian women and racial violence in the aftermath of Atlanta | Guest column

In her famous essay “The Laugh of the Medusa,” Hélène Cixous resurrects… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
When a sheriff is under investigation | Roegner

I have always viewed the position of sheriff as a non-political professional… Continue reading

An AR-15 and a loaded magazine were recovered from a suspect in a shooting incident at the Kent Station parking garage in 2019. (King County Sheriff’s Office)
Editorial: Lawmakers test public’s patience on gun laws

There were more than 24,000 firearm deaths last year, yet state and national lawmakers seem immovable.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Violence Against Women Act becomes political victim | Roegner

The last thing this country need is to politicize violence against women.… Continue reading

Keith Livingston is a longtime Federal Way resident and community observer. He can be reached at keithlivingstondesign@gmail.com.
The state of Federal Way’s forward-thinking ‘vision’ | Livingston

I watched the mayor of Federal Way’s 2021 State of the City… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Tax on capital gains stirs debate in Olympia | Roegner

Going into the 2021 legislative session, there were many major issues for… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Voter suppression and the stolen election myth | Roegner

The next two years are going to be as partisan as the… Continue reading