My son is currently learning about the founding of our country in history class. I can say this because I homeschool him and know exactly what he is reading everyday in his history book, Build Our Nation. I point this out because if your child is in public school, there is a chance that s/he is not learning history on a daily basis, if at all. I've heard numerous complaints (and have seen some evidence myself) of the lack of teaching of this very important subject to our youth. Much of the focus in public school is put on reading and math, even to the neglect of teaching writing skills! This is no accident, as the schools ARE run by the government, and I'm sorry to say, the government has NO incentive to educate our children on history. The dumber we are, the better.
Yesterday we read about the Declaration of Independence, and how it lead to the Revolutionary War. We learned about treason, and I thought about how that word is thrown around so much these days in regards to our political "leaders."We learned what a Patriot was, and we discussed what a Patriot would do in today's times. We also learned about Liberty, and how even in the days of fighting for our Liberty, our founding fathers neglected to see the Liberty for ALL, including women and people of color. After our lesson, we discussed the lack of history teaching in schools. I pointed out to my son that many of his friends are not learning what he is learning, and our country will suffer for it. I was able to tie in how lack of education can make you look ignorant in the future, similar to how many of the GOP candidates look ignorant when they "quote" the Constitution, but have no idea what they are talking about.
Case in point, Herman Cain in a speech about how everyone should re-read the Constitution, actually quoted the Declaration of Independence, giving credit to the Constitution. It's not as though these speeches are given on the fly...these things are planned. So Cain and anyone else involved in this speech did not catch the gaffe. Yikes. I have to mention also, that Cain did not realize that China had nuclear weapons...since 1964...and this happened during his lifetime!
When we do not know history, we cannot look back. It is not that history won't repeat itself, but it's that we will better know how to handle it when it does. Or we will know better how to navigate our decisions in life or politics, should any of our children grow up to become leaders of our country. (And by the way, SOME of them will, because they have no choice!)
So do your kids a favor, and put some maps up in your house. Get a globe and place it in a visible area. I can't tell you how many times we have had to pull our globe down for discussions outside of school time. Talk about the leaders of countries, where countries are located, economics, and even about human infallibility and its role in mistakes our leaders have made. Your kids should know definitions of capitalism, fascism, socialism, communism, and how to recognize them. They should know the history of different religions. They should know the history of our military. They should even know about the history of our existence, still debated today.
When our children grow up, they will either understand the world, or they will not. Hopefully they won't grow up and make a fool of themselves in a televised speech, but would you prefer they make a fool of themselves in a public conversation amongst peers or co-workers? Remember, too, that when you get older, it is YOUR child's peers that will make decisions for you. And if nothing I've said matters, THAT should matter to you most!