Subscribe via RSS Feed

The End of History Education

[ 237 ] May 23, 2014 |

The Boston public school system is eliminating history and social science departments, merging them with other departments that don’t matter because they aren’t on the standardized tests.

No doubt this is paving the way for the same thing to happen on the university level to the non-STEM departments.

Share with Sociable

Comments (237)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Murc says:

    You know, at first I was like “Okay, this is wrongheaded, but it’s at least colorable, merging as many of the humanities together under a single “Humanities” department is the kind of thing that makes sense to someone who wants to clean up the org chart without a clear understanding of why those departments are separate in the first place…”

    Until I got to the part where they’re firing all of the chairs.

    Now, I don’t know what it’s like across the country, but locally I’ve never encountered a department head at a public school who wasn’t both in the classroom some hours a day and doing a lot of administrative work to make it easier for the rest of the department to dedicate more hours to said classrooms.

    So really, the meat of this article is “Boston fires a bunch of teacher and offloads a ton of non-teaching work onto current teachers, and ensures there’ll be nobody with competence in their fields making decisions in their new departments.”

    Or do I have that wrong?

    • folkbum says:

      As an urban English teacher, I though this story sounded implausible. And sure enough, the link in Erik’s source goes straight to a big fat debunking:

      History and Social Studies instruction is not going anywhere in BPS. The History and Social Studies Department is not being eliminated or folded into English Language Arts. I am sorry that so much misinformation has circulated so quickly online. I hope this helps us correct the record so we can move forward.

      Now, laid-off specialists and poor communication skills are the kinds of things I’ve learned to expect from inept administrators. But not wholesale elimination of core subject areas.

  2. Andrew says:

    I just had to check the calendar because that reads like an April Fool’s Day prank, or maybe an Onion article…no history departments? What?!

  3. DF says:

    I work in a poor, struggling middle school in NJ. Here, they’ve gone to 2.5 hour blocks of math and language arts, with history and science as a half-year rotating “special” class, akin to art, music, or library, which the students get half a year of.

    Needless to say, this will not cause these children to suddenly triple their test scores to meet proficiency levels, but will almost ensures that no one from this town will ever be a scientist or historian. Because, apparently, history and science (?!?) are for rich white people.

    • Murc says:

      … two and a half hour blocks? Are you shitting me?

      Did the people who designed that curriculum schedule not know a thing about effective pedagogy? Because you’d think that’d be a pre-requisite.

    • DAS says:

      And then I will get the top of this class of students who, having had no proper foundation in science (and not having had any education in the “soft skills” necessary to succeed at college nor having had art or music education to exercise their minds), will take my intro chem course and wonder why they don’t understand a lick of what I am talking about. Rather than seeking tutoring or help at my office hours, since they are used to being the top of their class, they will get frustrated, stop attending lectures, fail the class and take > 6 years to graduate (as my class won’t be the only one in which this happens).

      And then Chris Christie will blame the middle school teachers themselves and the NJ leg will complain about our 4 & 6 year graduation rates at the college level and Arne Duncan will wonder why we are falling so far behind in STEM.

      • Unemployed Northeastern says:

        And then they will lift the H1B visa limits, allowing Microsoft, Google, et al to hire thousands of worker ants at lower wages who will work longer hours, since the companies hold their visas and therefore unlimited power over them. Eventually, of course, the work itself will migrate overseas to countries with lower wages and next-to-no regulations. Corporate profits up, wages down, American workers just happy to find a job doing something somewhere. It’s a plutocrat’s dream!

        • BigHank53 says:

          Until the 70% of the national economy that’s based on consumer spending goes away because nobody can afford to consume any more. That’ll be fun.

    • Karen says:

      The absolute worst effect of the ” school reform” movement is that it treats the humanities, including foreign languages, as something exclusively for rich white people. The Austin schools cut almost all foreign languages but Spanish from any high school but the selective admissions magnet a few years ago. So, Hispanic kids who wanted to take French or Latin because they already speak Spanish are SOL. AP classes in almost anything humanities related exist only in the three suburban majority – white high schools.

      • Davis X. Machina says:

        So, Hispanic kids who wanted to take French or Latin because they already speak Spanish are SOL…

        Not just Hispanic kids. The high school language future is two years of Spanish, for state-university flagship-campus admissions purposes. The rest — more years, or different languages — just get a Rosetta Stone site license…

      • fledermaus says:

        Hey if it can’t be “quantified” in a simplistic fill-in-the-bubble test, it’s obviously not worth knowing.

      • Joe Bob says:

        I can’t get over how short-sighted and literalist that is. Learning a second language taught me as much about my first language as about the second one. Even though I was always in supposedly ‘advanced’ English classes I never really learned tenses until I had to conjugate foreign verbs.

        • Karen says:

          I didn’t learn relative pronouns until I took Latin in college.

          Actually, languages are one of the few things that a standardized test can gauge, at least the basic grammar and comprehension part. Either the kids in German can read “Der Spiegel” or they can’t. Also, language skills are marketable in the New Global Marketplace. One would think we’d want to be able to talk to someone in the EU, but apparently not.

          • Davis X. Machina says:

            One would think we’d want to be able to talk to someone in the EU, but apparently not.

            “Oh, they all speak English anyways.”

    • pseudalicious says:

      They tried the block system with us when I was in 6th grade (mid 90s) — Language arts with social studies (history, civics), math with science. On paper, it made sense. In practice, I learned nothing. I remember nothing.

      • pseudalicious says:

        Oh, and I think that was the year where we were studying for the state standardized test. Huh. This was in a wealthy school district, btw.

      • mark f says:

        I graduated a year or two before the MCAS became a requirement, but at least one of the lower classes was practicing for it during my senior year. Not only did we have to endure block scheduling — which the teachers were as unprepared for as the students, so the second half of the block functioned as a study hall — but my school was built in the open classroom format. Because of the need for quiet in the testing areas, some of the pods* were put to use exclusively for that purpose, meaning that we were often in the wrong classroom during the extended periods. We were also prohibited from leaving the room for anything such as a bathroom break during the period. I can’t think of a single intended benefit to the practice that might have been achieved in the time I endured it.

        *On each floor there were two “pods:” large open spaces that had long since been divided into individual classrooms by wheeled chalk boards, filing cabinets and felt temp walls. In my four years there each pod was devoted to a particular department, e.g. math or social studies.

        • joe from Lowell says:

          The best part of dividing the pods into individual rooms is that one gets a heater designed for a space 4X as large, another gets a window, and yet another gets the light switch.

          Which was the greater failure of the field of architecture: open classrooms, or high-rise public housing?

          • mark f says:

            You have to give it to housing based on scale, but open classroom was a clusterfuck. I can only imagine what it must have been like when everyone was thrown into that building when it was a new thing.

            Good point about the heat. The inverse of that is the noise. If one class has a disruptive kid it has an impact on like 60 students instead of 15. I had one class where my teacher was mocked loudly every day, all period . . . by a kid from the neighboring class. People would throw paper over the short walls — all kinds of silly high school shit that would normally be contained affected multiple classes at once. There was an in-class brawl once, and I’m talking desks and chairs being thrown around, that involved kids and teachers from two or three different “rooms.”

          • Karen says:

            Oh, Lord. Open classrooms. My middle school did that, when my father was on the school board and screamed bloody murder against it. My math class had the light switch but not the thermostat. The 6th grade remedial class got the thermostat but not the window, and the window went to the 7th grade science lab section. My math teacher retired the year after this happened.

        • mark f says:

          In fairness to open concept, though not block scheduling, the two Pre-calc teachers utilized somewhat as intended by combining the two sections and splitting duties. I don’t remember a thing about the subject, but it must have been somewhat effective since I qualified for AP Calc the next year (I dropped it when I found out I only needed three years of math to graduate; I guess that was a mistake).

  4. Karen says:

    This is catastrophic. Boston, the home of the American Revolution, will no longer teach about that event. I thought the use of instruction manuals in remedial English class here in Ausitn was a particularly cruel quirk Te as inflicted on our less-gifted students. Apparently we were trendsetters.

  5. Karen says:

    Also, if everyone becomes a STEM worker, won’t the value of those degrees plummet? I know that it’s actually not that easy to get a job now in those fields even with such a degree, even an advanced one. So, what halogens after we’ve eliminated all other options?

    • fka AWS says:

      No offense to all the STEM workers out there, but fuck STEM. I hated learning STEM, although I enjoy tinkering with coding, watching Neil DeGrasse Tyson destroy creationist/anti-climate change arguments, etc. I will even spend time on the occasional documentary about the Bletchley gang or the physicists who created the atomic bomb.

      But that doesn’t mean I have any interest whatsoever in being a STEM worker.

      • N__B says:

        The problem isn’t STEM. The problem is the assholes – some of whom have STEM backgrounds and some of whom do not – who (a) promote STEM because they think the forms of thinking those fields produce are somehow better than the forms of thinking that other fields teach, (b) think that what field you study automatically translates into what job you will work at, and (c) are unwilling to budget for any field that doesn’t have testable metrics.

        • Lee Rudolph says:

          I won’t speak for S, T, and E, but it’s only at the very low end that M has metrics that are “testable” in the sense of “measurable by multiple-choice or short-answer questions with strict time limits and no attention to process rather than product”.

          • N__B says:

            Yes, but I’m speaking of the belief in testable metrics by the assholes I mentioned above. Engineering design is no more testable in that sense than higher-end math, writing, or sociological analysis.

            In sure, blind belief in simple answers through testing is idiocy.

            • Hogan says:

              Engineering design is no more testable in that sense than higher-end math, writing, or sociological analysis.

              Well, you could build the thing and see if it falls down, but that’s way more expensive than an 8×11 sheet full of penciled-in bubbles. That would be seriously high stakes.

          • ThrottleJockey says:

            Most countries in the world–including Germany, Britain, India, Japan, etc–use high stakes testing regimes. Since most of these kids are, in fact, kids, I think its a safe bet that we’re at the “low end” of the STEM disciplines.

            • Pat says:

              I understand that in some of those countries, your placement on that test determines your high school. The higher-level high school is a requirement for college; in the lower-level high school they prepare you for trades. So there’s no ability to move from one track to another. Here, a student who did poorly in middle school can still make it into college easily.

            • Karen says:

              I have a good friend who taught in a German gymnasium — the college track high school — and he really hates that system. The tests are administered at age 13 and determine the rest of the person’s life. While tracking has a place, the European system is entirely too rigid. Lots of things can go wrong in middle school that get straightened out later. We shouldn’t assign an immutable social class at that point.

              • Pat says:

                Also, people who graduate from gymnasium know deep in their bones that they are way smarter than lots of people, because they scored highly on a test at 13.

          • FlipYrWhig says:

            I’ve long said that math is free-riding on the whole STEM construct. Upper-level math is dizzingly arcane. I don’t see why it is that they’re supposedly encompassed by all that rhetoric about real-world applicability — and English and history don’t. English and history might seem indulgent and impractical and squishy to laypeople, but coherent writing, evidence gathering, and argument structuring… those are pretty real, no?

            Anyway, you may be acting all nonchalant now, but I see your little game, math.

            • Philip says:

              It’s not just the M. I can say from experience that S and T have arcane, inapplicable awesomeness too, and I bet engineering is the same.

            • Matthew Heath says:

              (Pure) maths’ get out is that while 97% of it is useless, nobody knows *which* 97%.

              Hence all number theory grant applications contain the phrase “may have cryptographic implications”

      • Pat says:

        We STEM folk honestly don’t care. It’s the administrators who are the problem. This stuff ain’t for everybody.

    • Starve.

      Moreover – and with the proviso that I went to a very good school for STEM – every STEM undergrad I know who wanted to work in STEM is working in STEM. They got help from the university’s career center, good networking and internships, and in general the school did really well by them, with some exceptions.

      Those STEM people that wanted to go into another field or anyone who didn’t go into a STEM field, on the other hand, found almost no help from the university in that. Peregrina and I both got essentially told to copy-paste job descriptions in our resumes and that was that. I suspect that the difficulty in getting a STEM job is more indicative of the general difficulty finding a job and less indicative of the industry itself – but that proviso makes me think I might be wrong.

    • Sly says:

      There’s evidence to suggest we’re producing too many STEM graduates already.

      • Matt says:

        The goal of most of the “MOAR STEM” crowd isn’t to fill all the positions, it’s to create enough surplus that wages go down. In other words, we don’t have a “STEM worker” shortage, we have a “STEM worker willing to work for $12/hr” shortage.

        See also the manufacturing space, where plant operators claim there’s a “skilled worker” shortage because their $10/hr senior machinist jobs go unfilled…

        • Unemployed Northeastern says:

          See also the NPR report a year ago that showed that almost half of the H1B visas granted each year go to so-called Tech Process Outsourcers, which basically exist to help corporations offshore their IT and programming departments.

      • njorl says:

        “STEM” is a ridiculous category.

        The glut of people who want to do animation on video games does not affect the shortage of petroleum engineers or physicists any more than the surplus of orderlies affects the shortage of psychiatrists.

    • Lee Rudolph says:

      So, what halogens after we’ve eliminated all other options?

      I vote for astatine, which Wikipedia assures me exists on earth only in amounts “of much less than one gram at any given time.”

    • njorl says:

      All sciences had been combined into a single department in Boston public schools already. This is the humanities getting the same treatment that science has always received.

    • Countries that decide to produce a lotta STEM degrees are often in terrible shape and have serious infrastructure needs.

      Just saying.

  6. MAJeff says:

    “Education reform” is all about training resources, not citizens.

  7. Malaclypse says:

    This is the statement on the BPS web site:

    I can certainly understand how some might come away with the impression that we are eliminating a department during our central office reorganization. In fact, however, we are attempting to embed History and Social Studies education into the “bigger picture,” which will help students and schools make sure that it is a core part of every student’s learning experience. I am happy to speak with you further or connect you with people who can offer up more information.

    • DF says:

      There’s definitely a way you can do that, and do it well. It makes sense to combine history and english into a humanities course. To do that, though, you really ought to have an English and a History teacher working together, in the same room. At the very least someone who has a major (or the equivalent knowledge) in both disciplines.

      The way they’re doing it, though, seems more like a cost-cutting measure, and a reaction to the fact that the year-end tests don’t have history on them.

      • Pat says:

        I disagree. You can maybe combine history and social sciences, to try to give students a bigger picture of the resources available to different cultures and thus a better understanding of what they do.

        But, dude, a lot of English is FICTION. So combining history and FICTION gives you what? A whitewash of the latest Iraqi war?

        • ThrottleJockey says:

          I’ve seen it done effectively, but as DF says it was done by a rotating team of 3 teachers and was quite challenging. To your point, the fiction that was read by the students served to demonstrate how historical events informed literary developments. It was probably the most popular course at my high school.

        • joe from Lowell says:

          So combining history and FICTION gives you what?

          You read and discuss “The Red Badge of Courage” in parallel with a Civil War section of your history text?

        • Jerry Vinokurov says:

          You’re being disingenuous. If you are covering e.g. slavery in America, it makes sense to read slave narratives and, say, Faulkner in your English class. Just because it’s “fiction” doesn’t mean that it can’t contribute to an understanding of the historical context, and vice versa.

        • njorl says:

          The reading list for my 11th grade American history course included “The Grapes of Wrath”, “Freedom Road” and “The Jungle”. Conveniently, “The Grapes of Wrath” was also part of my English class reading list, but there was no attempt at cooperation between the two teachers.

          I can see the wisdom of cooperation between history and English departments in the choice of reading materials, and on what lessons should be drawn from those materials, but you don’t need to combine the departments to do that. This is about eliminating some higher paid teaching jobs, and probably some higher paid teachers.

        • FridayNext says:

          The buzzword when I was training to be a teacher in 1993 was “cross-curricular connections” now I think it is “interdisciplinary” or it was ten years ago. I am sure they have a new buzzword by now. As so many people have pointed out here, it can be done quite effectively when done right. I have no expectations they will do it effectively.

      • Davis X. Machina says:

        There’s definitely a way you can do that, and do it well. It makes sense to combine history and english into a humanities course

        That’s how it began, really, in the study of the ancient world, when it was the only study, together natural philosopy — Litterae Humaniores. What we now call ‘Classics’, before they became Altertumswissenshaft.

      • Jerry Vinokurov says:

        This is in fact how I learned history and English in high school, and it was an amazing experience.

    • Sly says:

      “The problem with Social Studies is that its not interdisciplinary enough.” Said no one who knows what they’re talking about ever.

    • joe from Lowell says:

      Yeah, the reaction to this story is running quite a way ahead of the facts.

      • ThrottleJockey says:

        The Superintendent’s statement didn’t help. It sounds like corporate speak: “Move along folks, nothing to see here.” Even though there’s a dead elephant twitching in the corner of the room.

    • Karen says:

      Anyone who defends an action by telling everyone to look at the “big picture” has out something terrible in the details.

      • Matt_L says:

        exactly. “Look at the big picture” always entails a certain amount of hand waving to distract from specific injustices or actions carried out in bad faith. Its like saying the ends justify the means.

      • N__B says:

        “Yes, it’s true I killed my parents. But in the big picture, there are seven billion people I did not kill.”

      • joe from Lowell says:

        That’s not what he said.

        In fact, however, we are attempting to embed History and Social Studies education into the “bigger picture,” which will help students and schools make sure that it is a core part of every student’s learning experience. I am happy to speak with you further or connect you with people who can offer up more information.

        Hypothesis: the size of the knee jerking is inversely related to the available facts.

        • ThrottleJockey says:

          The problem, though, Joe, is that they fired all of those History department heads. If they really meant to create an integrated curriculum, they would’ve needed to keep them on board. You can’t teach good history/social science just by having a English teacher read kids a bunch of history/social science texts. To Karen’s point you can’t teach the American Revolution the same way you teach Hamlet.

          • joe from Lowell says:

            The problem, though, Joe, is that they fired all of those History department heads.

            Link?

            I’ve been searching, without any luck, for any reporting to support the claim that department heads have been fired. I have not found any.

            Seriously, think about that claim for a second: these teachers, who haver the seniority, experience, expertise, and talent to be made department heads, are being laid off?

            Not “reassigned.” Not “demoted.” Not “will no longer be department heads.” We’re supposed to believe that a whole bunch of department heads have been fired from teaching in the Boston Public Schools.

            That claim should be a big red flag about this story, to anyone familiar with public schools.

            • ThrottleJockey says:

              Obviously you’re much closer to this so your opinion is owed a great deal of deference, but the Change.org page has comments from BPS teachers who seem to have firsthand knowledge. So unless this is an elaborate internet ploy its hard to conclude otherwise.

              • joe from Lowell says:

                None of the several dozens comments I’ve read so far say anything about layoffs. They all make the point about the benefits of keeping history and literacy as separate departments.

                The only one I could find that comes close is this: 2. Though administrators might attempt to argue otherwise, this is very likely a first step toward limiting opportunities for students by eliminating history positions and pushing even more work onto already overburdened ELA teachers.

                Were there some that I missed?

                • joe from Lowell says:

                  Honest question. Not trying to start a fight, not staking out a position – other than the position that we don’t have the facts here.

                • Lee Rudolph says:

                  Well, I missed them all, too, in that case.

        • Linnaeus says:

          I agree that we need more information, but BPS admin doesn’t seem to be very specific or detailed on why they’re doing this reorganization, which does make me a little suspicious. But I can’t go beyond that at this point.

    • Josh G. says:

      I’m not impressed. This sounds like bureaucratic-speak for “Don’t worry, we’ll put a few vaguely history-related essays in the test prepEnglish courses.”

  8. Brien Jackson says:

    Honestly, if the history/social science classes I had in high school are representative of the rest of the country, then this doesn’t seem like a terrible idea to me per se. But as Murc said, it really smacks me as a strategy to downsize the teaching force as much as anything.

    • Davis X. Machina says:

      Teachers cost money.

      Plop the snowflakes down in front of a computer and have them do it all via PLATO, or StudyIsland, or K12, or Odyssey Courseware, under the beady gaze of a bunch of $10.45 ed-techs, to take attendance inventory, and give out passes to the potty.

      You could do that in an old big-box store, like a Circuit City. Eventually, you’ll be able to sell off the school buildings and the buses. Some of that real estate is valuable.

      • DAS says:

        Except if I were trying to save money, I’d cut STEM first, or at least the science/engineering part. You can’t learn science/engineering by sitting in front of a computer being force-fed information: even a hard-core computational scientist like myself has to admit that you need to be in the lab and doing experiments to learn science. Which requires equipment and faculty to teach, hands on and in person, the students how to use the equipment and run the experiments, etc.

        • Davis X. Machina says:

          Costs too much. The loss of quality is made up by the dollar savings, anyways.

        • N__B says:

          An old joke from Isaac Asimov:

          A university president is berating the dean of the school of science about his proposed budget. “Why is it that you physicists always require so much expensive equipment? The math department doesn’t ask me for anything but money for paper, pencils, and erasers. And, and the philosophy department is better still. It doesn’t even ask for erasers.”

    • Anonymous says:

      My high school American history teacher was the best teacher I ever had at any level.

    • Guggenheim Swirly says:

      Honestly, if the history/social science classes I had in high school are representative of the rest of the country, then this doesn’t seem like a terrible idea to me per se.

      Yeah, I’m gonna go ahead and disagree here – those classes were the best I took in high school. They opened my mind up to a lot of new things that eventually played a large role in my intellectual development. It was the science instruction in HS that I found useless.

      (And I went to HS in Florida, which makes it all the more surprising that their social science classes were worth anything at all.)

    • ChrisTS says:

      My son was a very smart, unmotivated kid until he hit World History in HS. Now, he is studying Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies and has already traveled and studied in Dubai, Jordan, Turkey, and Qatar.

      • Ronan says:

        Thats cool. How’s he getting on with the Arabic? It’s something I kept putting off while in university because I was never particularly good with languages, but took up recently for a job I liked the look off(though it’s taking time – I dont have much self discipline, have infrequent classes/time at the min etc)Though it’s definitely more accessable than I would have thought back in the day. There are a lot interesting things you could do with such a background. Has he liked travelling in the Middle East?

  9. DrDick says:

    It is important to teach the Deltas necessary skills to make them productive drones serving our plutocratic overlords. That other stuff is totally unnecessary and dangerous, as it might cause them to ask uncomfortable questions.

    • Gregor Sansa says:

      If the world hath 1110 creatures in’t, and 60% of them are goodly, then how many goodly creatures are there here?

      • Gregor Sansa says:

        In other words, if we can rewrite all major historical events and literary masterpieces as word problems, they can still be taught in the brave STEM world.

    • Brien Jackson says:

      ” That other stuff is totally unnecessary and dangerous, as it might cause them to ask uncomfortable questions.”

      I think it’s safe to say that high school history hasn’t caused anyone to ask uncomfortable questions in this country in a LOOOOOOOONG time.

      • Walt says:

        Dude, just because you had shitty high school history teachers doesn’t mean the rest of us did.

        • Brien Jackson says:

          I’m not saying the teachers are bad, but how many places are there, really, where the curriculum is anything beyond the most banal “America rah-rah” crap?

          • Linnaeus says:

            My AP US History class was pretty decent – it wasn’t as critical as say, an upper-level undergrad course in college – but it wasn’t just rah-rah, either. YMMV, though.

          • joe from Lowell says:

            History in the schools has gotten considerably better in this regard over the past couple of decades, though of course the progress has been uneven in different districts.

          • My US history class in high school used People’s History of the United States as one of its texts — and I had the teacher who wasn’t a Marxist.

            Actually, as early as middle school I remember a really accurate, critical unit on the Mexican-American War, so it wasn’t just high school.

            • Karen says:

              The middle school near my house, where both my kids attend/ attended, has a PhD for 8th grade American history, and their class was far from ‘U S A! U S A!.” This is in Texas, too. I think this varies a lot from campus to campus, however.

            • dn says:

              One of my few distinct memories of the academic part of elementary school is covering the Trail of Tears in 5th grade. I can still hear Mrs. Riley telling us about the shamefulness of it.

              High school US history was great too – I distinctly remember covering Reconstruction, the Gilded Age, and the Depression era in depth. I honestly have few significant complaints about the history I learned in school.

          • delurking says:

            I just took my kid on a tour through the high school she’ll be attending here in Arkansas, and I have to say I was impressed. Serious labs for chemistry and physics, serious art curriculum, Latin, French, Spanish, and German, and AP classes in many areas, including biology, chemistry, physics, and World History. A serious percentage of the teachers had masters or PhDs.

            High school has come a long way since I did time in one.

          • Bijan Parsia says:

            My school in the 80s was rather good. In the AP class, we read a bunch of new revisionists. It was great. 11th grade economic history was really fine (I still love “The Worldly Philosophers”).

          • DrDick says:

            Actually, my HS American history class was pretty good and actually challenged a lot of this. I might add this was in a small city in Oklahoma in the late 1960s.

          • Jeff R. says:

            I learned about the interment of Japanese-Americans during WWII in my 8th grade history class. And that was in a district that had a significant number of Japanese-Americans. Of course it was the late 70s, so maybe that was a long time ago.

  10. Chris J says:

    It’s the predetermination of all this STEM stuff that annoys me. You can’t tell how kids will turn out or what they’ll do. I spent a couple of decades as a cellular and molecular biologist doing pretty cutting edge stuff (for the time), yet I majored in history and religion in college, and history was my favorite high school subject.

    • Davis X. Machina says:

      It’s the predetermination of all this STEM stuff that annoys me.

      It’s certainly not about science and mathematics, not in the way that scientists think about science and mathematicians think about mat.

      It’s not even about jobs, per se.

      It’s about promotion of the state religion. Those are the money jobs — or so we’re told — so we point kids at them willy-nilly. No one cares if you like theology. The issue is will you save your soul, and be able to spread the gospel to others.

      • Linnaeus says:

        It’s certainly not about science and mathematics, not in the way that scientists think about science and mathematicians think about math.

        Bingo. “STEM” should be written as “sTEm” to express what’s really being emphasized when the term gets thrown around like it does.

      • Joe Bob says:

        You are right about it not being about the jobs.

        When I was in grad school in the mid-to-late 90s people were piling pell mell into the computer science and electrical engineering programs. They were all going to get lucrative jobs in the tech sector.

        Around 2001 a lot of those people were wondering what the hell happened. They signed up for the sure thing and then it blew up. And they didn’t even like computers that much.

    • Bijan Parsia says:

      Philosophy major, MS, and PhD teaching and researching in computer science here!

      • Ronan says:

        if you dont mind me asking Bijan, did you find the jump to computer science difficult ? Your PhD was in philosophy wasnt it?

        • DAS says:

          When I was in graduate school (in Biochemistry), I took the opportunity to take a graduate level course (decision theory) from my university’s philosophy department — one of the top philosophy departments in the nation. I majored in math in undergrad and my research is very mathematical/statistical, but the philosophy students knew far more math than I will ever know.

          I am not so sure about your (stereo-)typical stoner philosophy major at the school where I teach, but the best and the brightest of philosophy Ph.D.s are scary, scary smart and good at just about any subject.

          • Ronan says:

            Yeah, that would be my experience of the only philosophy grad I know (who went back recently to do a (relatively) math heavy PhD) Bear in mind she’s the only person from my group of old time friends to do a PhD, possibly the only one able to spell PhD. (I kid, I kid)
            But tell me this, they understood math*S*(LOL) on a theoretical level or practically (is this even a distinction that makes sense?)

            • Ronan says:

              In that I guess most philosophy graduate programs are thought through maths ?

              • Bijan Parsia says:

                There is usually a split between the more math centric folks (logicians primarily, but more recently decision theorists, Phil of science folks, etc) and the more traditionally humanities esqe folks (history, ethics, some metaphysics and epistemology). The rise of experimental philosophy has pulled in more straight up pyschological and sociological methods that used to be confined to some wings of cog sci, Phil of mind, and philosophy of language.

                There’s quite a lot of highly technical philosophy and philosophy which works with sciences. People working on implicit bias come to mind.

                • Ronan says:

                  Id assume there’s a big gap between the work you do, and the skills you need in it (programming and maths specifically) and the sort of maths and programming skills you would learn in a general (quant based) social science PhD(stats, using languages like R, STATA etc), is that the case ? (does that make sense?)
                  So how big is the learning gap there (I know this is a broad question and probably difficult to answer in any meaningful way) between someone who finsihed/was doing a quant heavy soc sci PhD and what you do? Could said person make the jump relatively easily to what you do ? Or is it a completly different area of research ? (what Im trying to work out is how advanced the programming and maths skills you learn in a soc sci PhD are (compared to people who specialise in these subjects) and if the skills are more tailored to social science subjects rather than having more general applicability ? (if you see what I mean, this reads a little incoherent, but I wonder if you can see what Im tring to get at)

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Id assume there’s a big gap between the work you do, and the skills you need in it (programming and maths specifically) and the sort of maths and programming skills you would learn in a general (quant based) social science PhD(stats, using languages like R, STATA etc), is that the case ? (does that make sense?)

                  You’d have to look at different points in my career. My early switch (as an RA at Maryland) used programming and logic and conceptual modelling straight up. Very little stats or experimentation. By the end, I was doing small scale user studies so some experiment design and stats became relevant.

                  A little over two years ago (maybe 4?) I started working a lot more on empirical stuff of all sorts, both computational and human, though with the human much more in a psychological vein. (I worked a lot of coding records and texts, though.) Over the past year (while on sabbatical at Siemens), I’ve been doing a lot more work with analysing and exploiting large scale clinical trials and observational studies.

                  I don’t do much machine learning, however.

                  So, it’s a continuum, and I’m closer to a quant based social science based PhD than I’ve ever been before. In another year, I’ll probably be rather close. (Sigh. a lot of work to do.)

                  So how big is the learning gap there (I know this is a broad question and probably difficult to answer in any meaningful way) between someone who finsihed/was doing a quant heavy soc sci PhD and what you do? Could said person make the jump relatively easily to what you do ? Or is it a completly different area of research ?

                  For some things it would be super hard (e.g., proofs of computational complexity or soundness and completeness), for others, I’d welcome it. I could make good use of such a person as an RA and get them up to speed “enough” on the other stuff over the course of, I’d say, a year, with them being productive from the start. To replace me exactly would take longer.

                  Computer science is fairly resistant to empirical methods (a big bugaboo of mine; I’m working hard to change it in my sub area). And you need subject matter knowledge as well (studying voting behavior and click through behavior both require similar core skills but you can’t usefully apply those skills without a good grasp of the domain).

                  Does this help?

                • Ronan says:

                  Yes,it does. Thanks Bijan. Sorry for getting so deeply into your professional life : )

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Ronan, no worries. It’s the kind of thing I have to explain to people all the time (e.g., students, people on the bus).

                  The hard thing for some people to get is that I was unlucky in a lot of ways (or I would be a philosophy prof somewhere) and lucky in a lot (I got two key breaks that let me relaunch in computer science). The latter does not mean that the former is no big deal most of the time. And the fact that I’m largely an autodidact in computer science doesn’t mean I didn’t need a lot of training.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          I did not find it very difficult but I was heavily in to CS, philosophy of math, and philosophy of CS (as well as logic) well before I made the jump. I’d even had a few programming jobs.

          From a research perspective it was rather easy. From a teaching perspective it was more culture shock than anything else and that culture shock was less than coming to the UK from the US.

          While my phd is in philosophy, I only finished it after being CS faculty for like 8 years. My formal training in CS consisted of one undergrad intro programming course, a philosophy class on comparability, and auditing a logic programming graduate class.

          Obviously, a lot of my Phil classes were useful to me (logic, modal logic, Phil of math) and my MA thesis was on the epistemology of the computer proof of the 4 color theorem. So I’d been reading a lot about how we know things in computer science. And my area basically combines conceptual analysis and logic: philosophers often make the leap there. I’m a little more unusual in my technical skills and empirical focus.

        • ChrisTS says:

          My spouse double-majored in college in Math and Philosophy. My school did not allow double majoring, so I majored in Philosophy and double-minored in Physics and Classics. We both have Ph.D.s in Philosophy; he went into software consulting.

      • N__B says:

        So you’re the man who can answer the question: do androids dream of electric sheep?

        • Lee Rudolph says:

          Major premise: This stone is dreaming of Vienna.
          Minor premise 1: All androids are stoned.
          Minor premise 2: Vienna is an electric sheep.
          Conclusion: Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

      • BubbaDave says:

        One of the smartest guys I know, spent some time at Google before leaving to join the startup where he’s now CTO, took his degree in philosophy at the U of New South Wales.

        Myself, I dropped out of college 6 hours short of a degree in history (to work as the photo editor for a magazine that promptly went out of business) and muddled my way through to my current position as IT Director.

        Assuming that the way to create good technologists is by training them in college seems unsupported by the facts.

        • Davis X. Machina says:

          Assuming that the way to create good technologists is by training them in college seems unsupported by the facts.

          Managers of technologists think that the way to create good technologists is by training them in college. After all, that’s what produces managers.

          The MBA is the most-often conferred master’s degree in the US.

          • N__B says:

            The MBA is the most-often conferred master’s degree in the US.

            I am hard pressed to think of a more depressing stat about higher ed.

            • Karen says:

              I am happy to report that the MBA is about as useless as a degree in underwater puppetry these days. At least the puppeteer can do YouTube videos.

              • Lee Rudolph says:

                And hasn’t, as part of the training, been (further?) converted to sociopathy!

                Well, except for the underwater snuff puppetry specialization.

          • ThrottleJockey says:

            Doesn’t it depend what type of student you’re talking about? Obviously you, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates didn’t need college to learn coding. Neither did my best friend in hs. But I’ve known quite a few excellent coders who did go to college. Seems like some people have natural aptitudes and others need training, no?

            • Philip says:

              I think the key is that it is very helpful, but mostly at providing a jumping-off point into any particular area of CS. So an undergrad in CS makes it quicker for someone who already has the aptitude to dive into any given specialization, but it’s also entirely possible to self-train into the specialization without the general education.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          Assuming that the way to create good technologists is by training them in college seems unsupported by the facts.

          Well…I hope not or my teaching career is *very* suspect.

          That it’s a necessary condition is definitely dubious as we demonstrate.

  11. MPAVictoria says:

    This is just depressing as all hell. History was my favorite subject in school. Democracy depends on having at least a semi informed citizenry. How can you be informed about current events if you have no knowledge of past/context?

    • DAS says:

      Aha! (to be exclaimed in the perfect accent Eddie Murphy uses when telling the “taste the soup” joke in the final scene of Coming to America: btw, I knew I was in for a culturally broadening experience in college when some of us in our dorm watched that movie — many of my dorm-mates had never heard the “taste the soup” joke before!)

    • slavdude says:

      I think that’s the point. Having people who come from what is left of the public schools, or from poorly-run charter or religious schools, who have never been taught to think critically or to use context in this way, serves the oligarchs who have taken over our country. They want docile drones, not citizens.

  12. DAS says:

    No doubt this is paving the way for the same thing to happen on the university level to the non-STEM departments.

    I don’t see this happening, at least not at my university or any university similar to it. For one thing, not everyone has the aptitude or interest to be a STEM major. In fact, most students do not. Even though Common Core fixes a lot of the problems we’ve had in STEM education at the primary and secondary levels, in practice (from what I see of my daughter’s textbook and curriculum), it still sucks — so it’s not as if we are going to have a flood of students who are ready for STEM majors any time soon. So that means colleges will have to have plenty of non-STEM majors which means plenty of non-STEM faculty will have to remain to educate those majors. Moreover, even STEM majors have to take writing courses and other general education courses.

    So in a university setting where more students going through your program means you can make the case to the provost for more faculty and more faculty means more power, humanities departments are just too powerful to decimate and oftentimes have their way, at least in terms of organization and faculty lines. E.g. no matter what case we can make in terms of how many more faculty we need in the chemistry department based on how many students we serve, the English department can always say “well, every student has to take one of our courses”, and the English department (or another humanities department) will get the faculty lines. And more humanities faculty ensure that revisions of General Education, etc., are sure to require plenty of diverse humanities courses meaning that there are plenty of humanities departments. And I am not complaining about that. While we could sure use more STEM faculty, the liberal arts university ought to focus on liberal arts, ought it not?

    And the other side of this equation is us STEM faculty: we do not want to have a bunch of unprepared students being shoved into our (majors’ level) courses because they were steered into STEM or health sciences related fields due to any lower diversity of non-STEM majors. Nothing is more frustrating to many of us than trying to ensure that solid STEM students get the background they need to move forward in STEM while also trying not to lose marginal students with material that is too complicated and too fast paced. So even those of us in STEM faculties often will want to push the admin to keep a bunch of non-STEM departments around to give students a good choice of majors and leave the STEM majors to those students who are interested in STEM and can handle the coursework. After all, as I just expressed … I don’t see primary and secondary STEM education (and I include mind training activities like art* and music here) improving to the point where all students are prepared for rigorous college-freshman-level STEM courses anytime soon.

    * my “college chem” students (who are generally “jocks”) couldn’t get the concept of a molecular dipole and I couldn’t understand why until my associate dean, who is also a chemist, explained to me that these students don’t have good spatial reasoning skills. The mistakes they were making now made sense to me. Except the odd thing is — how is it that a bunch of people who spend their time throwing and catching balls have poorer spatial abilities than a clumsy professor who regularly bumps into furniture because of his poor depth perception? I betcha, though, that art may have something to do with this — maybe I’ll start asking about that next time. I may have no depth perception, but I did take art lessons as a kid and after a few miserable failures started to do very well in drafting class in middle school (they required all of us to take a year of home economics in 6th grade and a year of shop — drafting, metalshop and then woodshop — in 7th grade. Do they have those courses anymore?)

    • Matt_L says:

      Right, while the College of Liberal Arts is not going away anytime soon at my university, that doesn’t mean it won’t be the poor relation when it comes to allocate FTEs, money for physical plant, money for tech in the classroom, or money to expand the majors. The CLA graduates at my school account for 60% of our Bachelors degrees, but we are constantly demeaned by the administration and the resources go to the Colleges of Engineering & Science, Nursing and Business.

      There will still be non-Stem majors, but they will serve as a dumping ground for the ones who flunk out of STEM.

      The non-STEM majors also serve a major financial function for the university. Tuition from History, English, and the other Social Science majors cross subsidize Engineering, Nursing and business students. Without those cross subsidies you would have to raise tuition to cover the cost of educating a Nursing or Chemistry BS. The humanities is not a net cost to a university, its a piggy bank to be raided by the administration.

      • Davis X. Machina says:

        Cross-subsidies and marketing can work against each other.

        There’s a real risk that all the people who run around saying “the liberal arts are worthless” are going to wake up and discover that they’ve turned the money faucet off on the source of their own funding.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      It actually already is happening. My wife’s school simply eliminated the French, German, Music, and Theater departments this year. Fired all the professors, moving the money toward majors that matter.

  13. joe from Lowell says:

    The very first sentence is wrong. History and Social Studies are not being merged “with other departments that don’t matter because they aren’t on the standardized tests.”

    They are being merged with the English Language Arts Department. Some of you might know that ELA is, in fact, the first subject that was subjected to standardized testing.

    The BPS is doing something; that’s for sure. Base your understanding of what it is doing on Erik Loomis’s representation of his understanding is something you at your own risk.

    • Josh G. says:

      They are being merged with the English Language Arts Department. Some of you might know that ELA is, in fact, the first subject that was subjected to standardized testing.

      In other words, they’re being abolished in favor of yet more interminable test prep.

      • joe from Lowell says:

        Howabout we stop jumping on our little Jump to Conclusions matts and actually find out some reliable information before forming opinions that just happen to match what our guts tell us?

        Would be that ok?

        • Erik Loomis says:

          You do realize that if you start personally insulting me I am going to start deleting your comments from my posts.

          This is your warning.

          • Manny Kant says:

            Seriously? Even if Joe were personally insulting you, this would be thin-skinned, but I don’t see anything beyond maybe an implication that he doesn’t have the highest opinion of you.

            Long-time commenters shouldn’t be banned for, basically, disagreeing with you and criticizing the content of a post.

            • Lee Rudolph says:

              And if you’re going to do it, could you at least do it in such a way that the purged comments don’t show up in the “Recent Comments” list, linked to the top of the page instead of the purged comments?

              • N__B says:

                If only we had someone who could get WordPress to do that! We need more comp sci grads!

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Join me in passing the Bijan Parsia Perpetual Employment Act. But don’t shorten the BPPEA to PEA! That would be wrong.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  But don’t shorten the BPPEA to PEA! That would be wrong.

                  Now that is one subtle internet tradition.

                • N__B says:

                  A little old-fashioned log rolling: I’ll support the BPPEA if you support my “free herring for all” bill.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  I’ll support the BPPEA if you support my “free herring for all” bill.

                  So long as you accept my friendly amendment: “free (vegetarian) herring (substitute) for all” bill!

                  Now that is one subtle internet tradition.

                  Letting go is for other people.

              • joe from Lowell says:

                It would probably be better for the entire readership for Erik to just let The Bad Man with his inconvenient facts have his say, but he’d rather screw up your reading experience.

                • Bill Murray says:

                  have you actually brought any facts here? You’ve questioned Erik’s but that isn’t the same thing as having new facts inconvenient or otherwise. But I do agree you are a Bad Man

                • joe from Lowell says:

                  Yup.

                  Reporting the absence of any evidence for the claim of layoffs is providing a fact.

                  Reporting that the History Departments are being merged with ELA, not “subjects that don’t matter because they aren’t on standardized tests” is providing a fact.

                  Apparently, you have one of those very disciplined minds that can manage not to know things, at will.

                  And of course I’m a Bad Man. Booga booga.

      • DF says:

        Not necessarily. I try to incorporate a ton of history into my English classes. I could do an even better job with a history teacher working together with me.

        I suppose the details of how the BPS does this are what will determine whether this is a good idea or not. Since it seems to me like they’re just the department heads, and not all the history teachers with them, maybe this will end up being a worthwhile change. But I remain skeptical of any efforts like this until I see how it shakes out.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          We had a coordinated history and English program in 10th grade that worked out pretty well in spite of the English teacher being awful. They tried to use each side to enhance the other but didn’t feel the need to eliminate either or merge then per se.

    • Murc says:

      It would seem pretty clear, though, joe, that while putting English, Social Studies, and History under one departmental umbrella is at least debatable on the merits, shit-canning a whole ton of teachers and deliberately structuring this new department so that nobody with expertise in history or social studies has a leadership roll in this new department is an unquestionably bad thing to do.

      • joe from Lowell says:

        I’ve been searching for stories indicating that anyone has been, or will be, laid off.

        Without success.

        Anyone?

        • Guggenheim Swirly says:

          Well, there’s this sentence in the linked story:

          Certified history department heads/chairs are being laid off and, apaprently, no certified history specialist will be hired to replace any of these teachers.

          • Hogan says:

            Yes, and we’re looking for independent confirmation of that, and not finding any.

            • joe from Lowell says:

              …when we really should be able to.

              Seriously, Boston Public Schools are laying off history department heads, and it doesn’t even make the local news?

              Boston.com is the Boston Globe’s web site. It has a search feature.

              I’m getting nothing.

              • peggy says:

                I just checked the Boston Teachers Union (BTU) site and also got nothing. What is the date of these supposed layoffs? BTU.org doesn’t appear to update daily, or perhaps weekly.

    • Matt_L says:

      The scholarly literature on teaching history at the high school and middle school level shows that expertise in the discipline is essential. For example, according to Sam Wineberg, _Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past_ (Temple: 2001), there is a difference in how well students learn history and historical thinking skills when it is taught by someone who has a degree in the field. There are even differences between instructors who have a social science background in say psychology, geography or political science and a history major.

      Having an English teacher use a western civ textbook in an English class is not going to teach students anything about history or historical thinking skills. It is going to teach them how to read a history textbook as a piece of literature. Learning to think, read, and write like an English major is a fine thing, but its not the same as thinking, or reading, or writing like a history major. In merging the history and social science department with ELA and firing history teachers, the Boston Public School administrators are subordinating the history content to test prep in English.

      • N__B says:

        I’m about to reveal my naiveté, but what field of instruction at the high school level doesn’t require expertise?

      • Lee Rudolph says:

        The scholarly literature on teaching history at the high school and middle school level shows that expertise in the discipline is essential.

        So, does your acquaintaince with “scholarly literature on teaching [...] at the high school and middle school level” by any chance extend to the works of John L. Rudolph (who I used to regularly dredge up while ego-surfing, before I had honed my filters sufficiently) on science education at those levels, and the history thereof? What I’ve skimmed of him seems interesting enough (but not so much that I’ve been moved to do more than skim).

        • N__B says:

          If nothing else, this thread gave me “ego-surfing.” It’s always nice when a useful new word arrives.

        • Matt_L says:

          no, I’ve really just been reading about the teaching of history at the college and HS level. My program trains a lot of Social Science and History Teaching (SSHT) students for the content side of their major. I am always trying to make sure my upper level courses incorporate materials that future Teachers can use in their lesson plans to meet state standards. I also try to model effective teaching.

          But thanks for the tip about John L. Rudolph! I just looked him up at Wisconsin. I’ll have to read some of his stuff. The science people have some of the more interesting insights about teaching and assessment at the college level.

  14. Davis X. Machina says:

    The humanities departments are just too powerful to decimate …

    They aren’t too powerful to decimate. They aren’t now. In twenty years there will be, with a few showy exceptions, no way to get anything other than a B.S. from a state school.

    The state legislatures won’t stand for it. They’re already not standing for it.

    • Joe Bob says:

      It’s not just the state legislatures either. Vis-à-vis the student loan debt crisis, an increasingly common Tea Party response is to ask why the federal government is loaning money to students so they can go into useless majors. “Useless” consisting of pretty much everything in the arts, humanities and social sciences. If these departments aren’t decimated by cuts in state funding first, the reactionaries in Congress could come at it from the other direction and limit students’ eligibility to borrow for certain courses of study.

      • redrob64 says:

        I’ve had vets tell me that they can’t get their service benefits to pay for electives in non-STEM courses already. Of course, I’ve also non-vet students tell me that federal financial aid won’t pay for electives beyond the absolute minimum credits either. Draw your own conclusions.

        • ironic irony says:

          Where are these vets going to school?

          I’m a vet and used VA benefits to finish my bachelors, and they had no problem paying for non-major classes that were a part of general education classes or electives that bought me up to the required number of credits needed for graduation. As long as the vet can make the case for taking the class (to the VA rep at the school), there should be no problem with the VA covering it.

          • redrob64 says:

            We’re a junior college in eastern WA. I’ll have to check with the VA rep about this. I just took the students’ word for it, but I should know better than that at this point.

  15. Denverite says:

    No doubt this is paving the way for the same thing to happen on the university level to the non-STEM departments.

    They’ll keep and expand business schools. IS departments too. Got to have something for the rich kids to major in who aren’t STEM-inclined (and very few are — those majors require too much work for them).

  16. Steve LaBonne says:

    This country has a great future behind it. Which students will no longer learn anything about.

  17. JustinV says:

    You know what will destroy interest in science and math? Making them the only compulsory subjects Kids hate that stuff. Nothing destroys learning like siloing.

    There exist in the world scientists who like Homer and humanists who are fascinated by physics. There are great gobs of English Ph.Ds who research in computer coding and web design as publishing and writing technologies, computer scientists who do philosophy, engineers who are authors (Thomas Pynchon?!). All this dumb STEM talk destroys these linkages, and I suspect it is designed to. this is also a tremendous disservice to all the young men and women who want to major in science and engineering fields and would like to still read a poem or take a music class, because the mind works better when refreshed by new things.

    What is wanted by this model are workers who can operate complex machinery and nothing more; there is little other use for poor or middle class students. Social sciences and modern languages will remain available and desirable at Harvard and Williams and their ilk, at Washington State it’s nursing and electrical engineering (to be completed in 2 years since there won’t be any electives) or the door. Besides, historians keep talking about unions and English classes are full of literature about oppression. Don’t need that.

    • Steve LaBonne says:

      As it is, K-12 math and science instruction is largely of appalling quality and guaranteed to turn off all but the most determined. My daughter had to get out of high school to realize that she actually really likes quantitative stuff, enough so to pursue an engineering degree.

      • Davis X. Machina says:

        ‘My daughter had to get out of high school to realize that she actually really likes quantitative stuff…’

        Context helps. I learned what math I know from the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, doing DR (simple algebra in one variable) and current triangles (graphical solution of vectors) and celestial navigation (trig, spherical) courses. Or from the American Radio Relay League, doing the limited EE stuff needed for the higher license classes.

        Wanna see my Smith chart?

  18. Tiny Tim says:

    I get the devaluing of humanities (don’t agree with! just understand the basic impulse) but humanities departments are actually cheap, except for maybe marginal foreign language departments with very low enrollments.

    • liberalrob says:

      Doesn’t matter, they aren’t as sexy as STEM. STEM is what’s supposed to save us, dontchaknow. Those are the high-paying jobs of tomorrow that are going to raise all Americans out of poverty and into the middle class.

      Standing tough under stars and stripes
      We can tell
      This dream’s in sight
      You’ve got to admit it
      At this point in time that it’s clear
      The future looks bright
      On that train all graphite and glitter
      Undersea by rail
      Ninety minutes from New York to Paris
      Well by seventy-six we’ll be A.O.K.

      What a beautiful world this will be
      What a glorious time to be free

      Get your ticket to that wheel in space
      While there’s time
      The fix is in
      You’ll be a witness to that game of chance in the sky
      You know we’ve got to win
      Here at home we’ll play in the city
      Powered by the sun
      Perfect weather for a streamlined world
      There’ll be spandex jackets one for everyone

      What a beautiful world this will be
      What a glorious time to be free

      On that train all graphite and glitter
      Undersea by rail
      Ninety minutes from New York to Paris
      (More leisure time for artists everywhere)
      A just machine to make big decisions
      Programmed by fellows with compassion and vision
      We’ll be clean when their work is done
      We’ll be eternally free yes and eternally young

      What a beautiful world this will be
      What a glorious time to be free

  19. LeeEsq says:

    Tsarist Russia placed a lot of emphasis on scientific and technical education or what we would call STEM today. The reason for this was that Nicholas I thought that educating his subjects or at least the ones getting an education in math and science rather than the classics and humanities would make them less prone to revolutionary thought. In these days of growing inequality and concern over that, the recent emphasis on STEM might be based on similar reasoning.

    Even if the reasoning to cut history along with the other humanities is different the decision to cut them is tragic beyond belief. Humans do not live by bread alone and the literary, plastic, and fine arts are some the crowning achievements of humanity. Kids need exposure to these things in order to know if some of them want to become the next generation of writers, musicians, painters, potters, jewelers, and glass makers. There is no room for beauty in the world of the advocates of STEM. Playing with clay and paint during art class also provides a much needed break and relaxation for students.

    The cutting of history is even more tragic. Even a poorly functioning democracy requires a somewhat well-informed citizenry with some knowledge of its past and the workings of its government. Most voters might be low information and might not exactly be elegant in describing politics but they aren’t dumb. I month ago I was in Kansas City for a case and had a conversation with local about public transportation. The local, a truck driver, understood the importantce of a good public transportation system and downside of sprawl. He wasn’t speaking in wonky terms but his line of thought was more or less what technocratic liberals think about these subjects. History helps people get some informaion even if they don’t remember it that clearly.

    The best defense, and its a very poor defense, of this policy is that the history education one receives in public schools is not very good. It tends towards the simplistic and the patriotic even in liberal districts. Even this type of history education is better than nothing.

  20. joe from Lowell says:

    The notion that department heads are being “laid off” – not “demoted,” not “reassigned,” not “no longer department chairs” but “laid off” should be a big red flag for anyone familiar with schools.

  21. joe from Lowell says:

    The notion that department heads are being “laid off” – not “demoted,” not “reassigned,” not “no longer department chairs” but “laid off” should be a big red flag for anyone familiar with schools.

    • liberalrob says:

      Maybe this is an attempt to reduce “administrative overhead?” Get rid of some “department head” positions but keep the curriculum?

      • joe from Lowell says:

        Maybe. We certainly don’t know from the story.

        My guess is that this is something being done at the administrative offices, not the schools themselves.

  22. Woodrowfan says:

    but it’s Common Core that’s a treat to education. (sigh). And I wonder why my students don;t even know basic American history..

  23. Frank Despicable says:

    I don’t see what the hubbub is all about. If people want their kids to learn history there are plenty of bestsellers from Regnery to inform them of its opposite.

  24. Rob in CT says:

    I majored in History. I love History, and wish more people did.

    What’s going on here is not clear to me. I think Joe from Lowell’s got a point that there is a lot of knee jerking going on here at LGM over this.

    It may be what you fear. We’ll see.

  25. daveNYC says:

    We are also continuing to work with partners and teacher teams to add additional History elective courses in high school.

    Any idea who these partners are?

  26. Malaclypse says:

    I found a second source.

    I’m thinking JFL called it.

  27. Egg MacGuffin says:

    I don’t know if the linked story has been updated, or what, but it now cites this:

    http://bpscurriculumandinstruction.weebly.com/

    which explicitly says, “History and Social Studies instruction is not going anywhere in BPS. The History and Social Studies Department is not being eliminated or folded into English Language Arts.”

    I think it’s time for a correction, Erik.

  28. […] of Boston’s public schools will no longer be maintaining independent history departments (h/t Erik Loomis @ Lawyers, Guns and […]

  29. Buy Cheap Customized cheap Coyotes jerseys from china

  30. water mitigation

    The End of History Education – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money

  31. mold remediation cost

    The End of History Education – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money

  32. water damage restoration

    The End of History Education – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.