Students Should Be More Aware of American History
By: Steven Romo The Battalion (Texas A&M)
October 13, 2006 6:03 PM
(U-WIRE) COLLEGE STATION, Texas - When it comes to the subject of history, the most clichéd aphorism is probably "If you do not learn from history, you will be doomed to repeat it." This proverb may hold a warning for college students today.
The Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) based in Delaware has published a report that warns of an approaching crisis for American citizenship. The institute surveyed 14,173 freshmen and senior undergraduate students at 50 four-year colleges and universities in the United States. The survey, developed by university faculty nationwide, covered 60 themes on a variety of historical topics from the Federalist papers to the Persian Gulf War. The results are not encouraging.
The national average for freshmen in the study was only 52 percent correct, while seniors averaged 53 percent. The additional years of higher education increased the score by only a single percent. Tuition dollars well spent.
Eugene Hickok, former Deputy Secretary of Education and board member of the nonprofit ISI warns that students are at risk of one day taking over leadership of this country without knowing what it stands for, according to The Detroit Free Press.
While it is unlikely that the nation will return to mistakes of the past, such as slavery and denying women the right to vote, not knowing the intricacies of our nation can leave young people unaware of where their rights as citizens come from. This is an ominous sign for the years to come.
The ISI places blame for this situation on the universities - not the students. It recommends increasing the course hours required in history, economics and political science.
Students from the top-rated schools in the study, Rhodes College in Memphis and Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, took an average of 1.3 additional courses in history and political science than those in the lowest scoring schools, The University of California at Berkeley and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Requiring additional courses may help alleviate the situation in part, but the responsibility ultimately lies with the students. Just as you can lead a horse to water and still leave it needing hydration, so can you put a student in a class and leave him needing knowledge.
Here in Aggieland, there seems to be no lack of American pride. There is no shortage of American flags and "Support Our Troops" bumper stickers; however, without knowledge of what has gone into making this country what it is today, this pride is empty and easily shaken.
Knowing the sacrifices made and the conflicts that surrounded the foundation and molding of this nation helps give citizens a sense of roots and history. Situations such as the war in Iraq, the looming Social Security problem and illegal immigration can be better understood with the knowledge of how the United States handled similar incidents in the past.
Pick up a book. Take a class. Skim the Bill of Rights. It would be a shame to make assumptions and judgments without truly understanding the story.