It’s happening folks. Beck and Barton have raised a million dollars to teach kids how to use primary documents “against the progressives.” In other words, they are going to try to teach students that America was founded as a Christian nation.
Don’t get me wrong. We need to expose our students to more and more primary documents. We need to teach students to put them in context, source them, and read them historically. But the phrase “against the progressives” suggests that Beck and Barton are once again using the past to promote their political agenda. My concern is that they are going to teach kids that the purpose of studying history is to cherry-pick documents and quotes for political purposes. This is bad history waiting to happen.
The older I get, the more I see the importance of money for shaping our understanding of citizenship and democratic participation. While Beck boasts about his million-dollar project, funding has been cut for the humanities at both the national and state level. The era of the “Teaching American History” grants are over. Colleges and universities, ever driven by market forces, are reluctant to put money into the humanities because fewer and fewer students want to study them. And as I have learned first hand in the last couple of years, the captains of private enterprise are only interested in funding history when it contributes to their economic or religious agendas. I am getting closer and closer to becoming that guy who uses his platform to preach the collapse of the American republic.
We are trying to make a dent here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home. We blog every day. We have a podcast. We hit the road as much as possible. I use my classroom to teach students that historical thinking is essential to democratic life.
But we just don’t have the funds or human power to expand our reach.
Watching Glenn Beck talk about his grand initiative to use history as a means of indoctrinating young people with the pseudohistory of David Barton is quite depressing.
Yet, the fight continues. Let’s invest in our democracy. Let’s invest in our civic life. Let’s invest in history.