Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Presents Overrated

I rarely comment on Florida Politics, for good but personal reasons. But sometimes one can't help oneself. Like when the legislature passes a law specifying that history be taught poorly. HB 7087 which has passed and been signed into law specifires how history is to be taught, among other things. A PDF of the bill (among it's many permutations) is available here. Here is a web page of the relevent section, which is 1003.42, lines 1118 through 1224. If you view the Enrolled pdf version of the pill, these are pages 42 through 46.

I should state at the beginning that many of you aren't going to react to this the same way I will.

One provision of the bill stresses the way American History is to be taught.
The history of the United States, including the period of discovery, early colonies, the War for Independence, the Civil War, the expansion of the United States to its present boundaries, the world wars, and the civil rights movement to the present. American history shall be viewed as factual, not as constructed, shall be viewed as knowable, teachable, and testable, and shall be defined as the creation of a new nation based largely on the universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.
Factual not constructed. That means no nuance, no ambiguiety. Other than mention of the African American experience, America is just noble and good, following the noble principles expounded in the Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the Constitution.

In other words, they want to teach American History as a lie. A pleasing lie to be sure, but still, essentially, a lie. History is constucted. Even this mandatory teaching of history as factual is a construct. It's a narrative. A narrative is created or constructed by the humans involved (in this case the Florida legislature). It's a pattern, created by perception. To strip the idea of constructing history out, to teach it as a system of solid facts, is misleading at best.

It would like being a Driver's Ed class refusing to get into the basics of how a car works. It would be like a Physics class refusing to discuss mathematics. But that is what the Florida Legislature mandates.

But they also mandate teaching Kindness to Animals so maybe it all balances out.

Picked up this story initially from an article at Common Dreams by Robert Jensen.

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