3/14/16

Why Students Should Learn History





Some believe that knowledge about history has little practical value or is mainly of intellectual interest.  In contrast, others hold that without knowing the past, the future will not benefit from lessons from the past. As philosopher George Santayana famously noted, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."




About a decade ago, a student at a leading university conducted an informal survey for his class project asking a few students to see what they knew about the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. 

Whether this video was edited to show only some of the respondents is not known, so the scientific merit of the study is unclear. Nonetheless, the video suggests there is an appalling lack of knowledge about a significant part of American history by many of the survey respondents, irrespective of their own ethnicity.

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/g/george_santayana.html
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/g/george_santayana.html
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/g/george_santayana.html
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/g/george_santayana.html
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. George Santayana
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/g/george_santayana.html
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. George Santayana
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/g/george_santayana.html
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. George Santayana
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/g/george_santayana.htm


A similar lack of knowledge about another major part of American history, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, was also found as the video below demonstrates.



How can these glaring gaps in knowledge among students at a leading university be prevented? Can introduction of this information earlier during elementary school be effective in correcting this ignorance?  One interesting example of such an effort is shown in the video below for a 4th grade class in a school in California.

In 2015,  Lindi Li, a parent of a fourth grader, informed me about the adaptation of the popular hip hop song, Uptown Funk, for a lesson on Chinese American history at the Thousand Oaks, California, Elementary APA Heritage Month Assembly by Andra' Kavuma's 4th graders. Linda wrote the lyrics for their rendition, AsAm Funk, ably sung by her uncle, Steven Dorado, with choreography adapted from Michelle Obama's Let's Move for Uptown Funk.  

Whether this engaging and imaginative approach of blending pop music with historical information to capture student attention will prove to have long lasting beneficial effects on student knowledge of history requires a followup a few years from now.  It is worth a try! 








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