Summer School – The Great Depression – A Rant

My oldest daughter is in summer school.  It only lasts two weeks and is equal to a whole semester.  It got me thinking; if they can cram a semester into 10 days, why do you go for a semester?  Also, I looked over her studies, which are U.S. History 1.  It covers the era from the end of the Civil War until WWII.  You’d expect there to be a good bit on WWI and the Great Depression, right?  I mean, in that time frame, there’s not a ton more going on.  Oh sure, a chapter on the Industrial Revolution, maybe some talk about Prohibition and the rise of civil and labor rights, but surely the bulk of the history lessons will revolve around things like the causes of the Great Depression (and how they are echoed in modern economics), or the revolutions of WWI like the introduction of aircraft and tanks to the battlefield.

Nope.  She has about half a chapter on WWI, and a similar amount on the Great Depression.  Instead, the lessons mostly focus on three things – the rise of the Industrialists, the rise of labor unions, and the struggle between the two.  That’s pretty much it.  Out of the 10 chapters she has to study, only the equivalent of one chapter is set aside for WWI and the Great Depression.  She’s spending more time learning about the “Wagner Act” (anyone have a clue what that is?  No?  Do you think it effects our modern society in any way?  Nope, it does not.) than about the causes and ramifications of the Great Depression.  The New Deal is barely mentioned, but the Hawley-Smoot Tariff is explored in detail…folks, this is ridiculous.  I looked over her studies and all I could think was, “Man, this stuff won’t even help you win at Jeopardy!”

Are school teachers and education boards that out of touch that they have no idea what’s important to teach?  Seriously, why go over the work of Andrew Carnagie?  He’s a damned footnote.  You wouldn’t spend a chapter studying Donald Trump, would you?  How about Bill Gates?  Why can’t history teachers realize that when the educational standards were put together between WWI and WWII, the people focused on minutia of their recent past, but it ISN’T IMPORTANT ANY MORE.  They would chide someone for knowing who Paris Hilton is or those who talk about pop music, then teach a lesson on the Flappers and Harlem jazz clubs.  IT’S THE SAME THING!  Just because it happened a long time ago doesn’t make it worthy of study.

O.k., rant over.  It’s just this sort of stupid, backward thinking that always bothers me.  When a teacher, or anyone for that matter, wants to criticize the “trivia” of modern times, maybe they should be reminded that in 30 years or so, they’ll be teaching that trivia as important history.

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