Two months to get out of Africa

Elementary students will spend two months studying Africa before going on to U.S. history, according to Michigan’s new social studies curriculum. From the Detroit News:

Currently, teachers would need as many as eight weeks to cover the Africa portion of the American History section for elementary school, experts say. Some 800-plus African tribal nations — which existed prior to the 16th century — would need to be covered under this proposal.

That’s not sensitivity; that’s overkill. Two months of African history does not belong in American history; it belongs in world history.

In the original version, the K-12 curriculum avoided “America” to refer to the U.S., reports the News. In response to protests, “America” is back.

Education Gadfly praises the curriculum’s rigor and college-prep focus while agreeing the study of U.S. history should focus on the U.S.

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Comments

  1. Those playing identity politics are racist themselves, from the sound of this proposal. It seems from the description of this proposal that the only worthwhile thing that Africans did was to be enslaved.

  2. Well good. They can spend the rest of their lives learning about the United States. Actually understanding that there is a world beyond the United States, from which people came, is worth a couple of months. Perhaps it will address the infamous American ignorance of anything that lies beyond its borders.

  3. If you’re an American, whatever your ethnicity, your cultural heritage is British. It’s a great heritage, chockfull of shame and glory, and it’s all yours to claim, regardless of your “bloodlines”. History teachers should help ALL children claim it, thoroughly, vigorously, and proudly.

  4. Anyone want to guess about the sanitized ‘happy-face’ history of Africa we are going to see? A healthy dose of past glories of ancient empires (none of their warts will be shown, to be sure), followed by the typical africanist nonsense, claiming credit for every invention and advance (all the credit was stolen by Europeans later), and a dollop of shame abotu the colonial period (wtih no real discussion of the post liberation era)….

    Something tells me that the current era of modern Africa is going to get a very short and well-polished discussion that won’t bring up too many unhappy questions.

  5. Except Stephen, this story is about a “supposed” American History class!

    My grade 7 son here in Georgia will spend an entire year on Asia and Africa (history, culture, and current events). Our students get a lot of international instruction. Some of it is no doubt biased but that’s the nature of history education.

    The problem in the U.S. is not that our kids don’t know world history and cultures; the problem is they don’t know history and cultures at all. Consider the previously referenced study on this blog about how poor college students do on a comprehensive test of American civics, history, and economics, and you’ll see the problem is our overall social sciences instruction.

    Of course, the edge in your post you be that you’re just resentful that Americans don’t study the history of our 51st state to the north? 😉

  6. Andy Freeman says:

    > Perhaps it will address the infamous American ignorance of anything that lies beyond its borders.

    Infamous perhaps, but typically better informed than, say, Euros.

  7. superdestroyer says:

    I bet that at Sidwell Friends, St Albans, National Cathedal, and Georgetown Prep that the students do not waste two months studying anything other than American history during History Class.

    It never fails to amaze me how the political leaders in the U.S. makes demand of other people’s children that they would make of their own.

  8. > Actually understanding that there is a world beyond the United States, from which people came, is worth a couple of months.

    As someone who isn’t from the United States I can state with confidence that the world beyond the United States has a good deal more to learn from us then we from they.

    In case anyone’s interested, here’s a link to the document:

    http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/Item_B_207000_7.pdf

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