Why We Teach American History

Why We Teach American History

Recently, conservative politicians railed against teaching of critical race theory (CRT). CRT is an academic concept that proposes that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies. Although CRT isn’t part of any primary education curriculum it has become a code word for inclusion of any so-called ‘woke’ concepts in the public school system.

A primary concern appears to be that including slavery, segregation, and racism in history teachings may damage the self-esteem of white children and make them feel ‘sad’. This is the opposite of the approach in Germany were education on the holocaust and Nazism are mandatory. It seems that the conservative position is one of “the past is done so there’s no reason to bring it up” while the Germans subscribe to “those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it.”

For historians, the past has always been seen as fundamental to understanding the present. And it provides examples of past failures that can guide us to a better future.

I believe that we should teach the truth about our history. Not to instill guilt or shame, but to acknowledge what people are capable of, good and bad, and recognize the long and difficult path from our origins to realizing the promise of liberty and justice for all.

This shirt acknowledges the importance of history both in understanding the present and building our future.

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