Thursday, January 15, 2009

Crisis Averted; or, How I Harangued The Rogue Solon And Made Him See Wisdom


A certain state legislator was proposing that my state reduce the minimum number of history hours required for any undergraduate degree from six to three. Goring the sacred bison that is my livelihood was bound to get a response. But even if I didn't teach it, I'd still defend it, along these lines which I sent unto Aforesaid Solon:


The amount of historical ignorance among high school graduates will fill you with horror. Frequently college history is the only place where these students actually learn something (anything!) about our country. Reducing the graduation requirement from six hours to three will do nothing to remedy this....If anything, the colleges will respond by revamping their curriculae so that American history is reduced to a single-semester survey. I have trouble getting everything into two semesters; how much more will be left out for our students to guess at or be utterly misinformed? (Will we end up like California, where students aren't even required to take college-level history if they had enough of it in high school? How well is that working???) ... Our country is already short-changed on its heritage, I don't want to see it further shorted.


And lo! I received an email shortly thereafter, wherein the Wise Solon admitted his prematurity and promised to kill the bill himself (i.e., not give it a hearing). Mind you, his initial defense was that he had been prompted by the board of regents at the big state school in his home district to do this in order to speed up graduation rates among undergraduates --and this was my alma mater!


I'm going to have a bone to pick with someone....


(NB his response email was "canned", as the head of the political science department at my alma mater had gotten wind of this and had convinced him of the wrong-headedness of the proposal a while back. Still, I bet my missive was more temperate than most, yet still forceful. And no, we're not going to play Name That Party.)

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