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Don't know much about (pre-1877) history?

By John Published: February 6, 2010

Colleen Grady at State of Ohio Education Blog worries that proposed standards for high school social studies shortchanges colonial American history, you know, founding fathers, American Revolution, "Give my liberty or give me death!"

I know time is short, I know there is an enormous amount of material to be covered, but this seems wrong to me.

Think about this for a moment: Unless Ohioans choose to study pre-1877 American History after they leave high school, the only knowledge of the founding of our country will come from elementary and middle school level instruction.

And it's true that on first glance, the proposed high school social studies course syllabi start at 1877 and carry us through Sept. 11, 2001. Eighth grade is when students learn about the American Revolution (actually they cover everything from 1607 to 1877).  Read all the standards, pre-K through high school here.

But I wonder if it's as dire as all that. While it's true there is no discrete high school unit devoted to colonial American history, there are opportunities to explore the ideas and times of the founding fathers under the proposed American Government  and World History courses. More after the jump:

For example, here is part of the American Government course syllabus:

Topic: Basic Principles of the U.S. Constitution
Principles related to representative democracy are reflected in the articles and amendments of the U.S. Constitution and provide structure for the government of the United States.
Content Statements:
2. As the supreme law of the land, the U.S. Constitution incorporates basic principles which help define the government of the United States as a federal republic including its structure, powers and relationship with the governed.
3. Constitutional government in the United States has changed over time as a result of amendments to the U.S. Constitution, Supreme Court decisions, legislation, public attitudes and informal practices.
Topic: Structure and Functions of the Federal Government
Three branches compose the basic structure of the federal government. Public policy is created through the making of laws, the execution of the laws and the adjudication of disputes under the laws.
Content Statements:
4. Law and public policy are created and implemented by three branches of government; each functions with its own set of powers and responsibilities.
5. The political process creates a dynamic interaction among the three branches of government in addressing current issues.
Academic Content Standards Revision

I don't know how you could teach any of that without understanding the history of the moment that produced the U.S. Constitution. Students also will be able to put that moment in a broader Enlightenment-era context in the proposed World History Course:
Theme: This course examines world events from 1750 to the present. It explores the impact of the democratic and industrial revolutions, the forces that led to world domination by European powers, the wars that changed empires, the ideas that led to independence movements and the effects of global interdependence. The concepts of historical thinking introduced in earlier grades continue to build with students locating and analyzing primary and secondary sources from multiple perspectives to draw conclusions.
Topic: Age of Revolutions (1750-1914)
The Age of Revolutions was a period of two world-encompassing and interrelated developments: the democratic revolution and the industrial revolution. Both had political, economic and social consequences on a global scale.
Content Statements:
1. Enlightenment ideas on the relationship of the individual and the government influenced the American Revolution, French Revolution and Latin American wars for independence.
2. Industrialization had social, political and economic effects on Western Europe and the world.



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