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February 02, 2018


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The SPLC report tacitly assumes that slavery is being taught worse than the rest of U.S. history, but the report provides no evidence to support that assumption. Surveys are regularly reported to show that many high school students are unaware of important historical facts. In 2008, for example, a survey of 1,200 teenagers conducted for Common Core found that a quarter thought Columbus sailed across the Atlantic after 1750, and a quarter could not identify Hitler as Germany's leader during World War II. If the problem is the teaching of history generally, a focus on how the specific subject of slavery is taught may not be especially helpful. (Another possibility, of course, is that short, casual multiple-choice surveys are poor ways of measuring students' knowledge.)

Rebecca Zietlow

RQA, you make a good point. The teaching of history in general needs improvement. However, I do think slavery is different because of its centrality to our nation's history.

college failed me

I was told repeatedly in HS and college that slavery did not cause the Civil War and that the idea that slavery caused it was a myth.

Rebecca Zietlow

college failed me, that is shocking, but sadly, not surprising in high school. But college? According to your teachers, what was the cause of the Civil War?

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