Heritage Foundation Report:
Crisis in Education from Ignorance of History
The Consequences of Historical Ignorance
America is suffering through a crisis in education, especially when it comes to history.
Many were horrified when a poll, released in April, showed that two-thirds of millennials don’t know what Auschwitz is, despite the fact that it was the most notorious Nazi death camp in World War II.
That was hardly the only worrisome poll of late.
Americans should be outraged that our schools have failed to teach even the most basic historical facts to the younger generations. Worse, the education they receive has often only turned into a justification for superficial social activism, lacking in depth and veracity.
David Hogg, the teen survivor of the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, who became a gun-control activist, exemplifies this worsening problem. He recently tweeted:
Throughout history violence and war only creates more of itself for example WWI->WWII->Cold War ->Korean War->Vietnam and up to today. While nonviolent moments like Gandhi’s, the suffrage movement or Civil Rights movement lead to peace and long lasting change. Ours will too.
This is little more than bumper sticker history, demonstrative of Hogg’s historical illiteracy.
For one thing, it’s unlikely that Gandhi’s pacifism would have been of much use against the Nazi war machine. People willing to put other humans in ovens are unlikely to be moved by passionate pleas for peace.
It should be noted, too, that Hogg’s two examples of nonviolent movements succeeding—Gandhi’s Indian independence movement and the U.S. civil rights movement—were not exactly nonviolent.
The Partition of India was incredibly violent, and led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of people. And the civil rights movement certainly wasn’t an entirely nonviolent affair, either. The rights of many black Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were secured almost entirely by gun ownership.
For Americans, the right to speak freely and protest was only secured because young men, mostly teenagers, were willing to take up arms—arms that Hogg and others have so relentlessly crusaded against—and risk their lives to fight for their God-given liberties against the British Crown.
At one time, every American would have known this and would have acknowledged the blood and suffering of the Revolution that secured our freedom and independence.
War is a terrible thing, but it is often just and necessary, and it has certainly served to stop tremendous evil in this world.
To deny that is absurd.
Not content to simply insult his parents’ generation, he then followed up in a later interview claiming that those who were against him were on the wrong side of history—a history that his generation would presumably be writing.
“Regardless of what your opinions are or where you come from, you need to realize we are the future of America,” Hogg said in an NPR interview. “And if you choose not to stand with us, that’s OK, because you’ll be on the wrong side of the history textbooks that we write.”
If that’s so, then future history textbooks will look more ideological and baseless than accurate portrayals of the historical record. But perhaps that’s because many current textbooks are, too.
Nevertheless, we have only ourselves to blame if we are not doing more to fix the increasingly deplorable state of American schools.
We must admit that the public school education model is failing our youths, despite how much money we’ve pumped into the system.
Historical ignorance and cultural disintegration are only going to become more pronounced until we find a way to expand the net of education that works for the youngest generation.
School choice can no longer be treated as a back-burner issue.
Our future and our freedom depend on it.