Sunday, July 29, 2007

Teaching Arkansas History

All the discussion about teaching Arkansas History has been most enlightening. I have no idea which side is right, and since when should the governor decide? Mr. Beebe, you may be heading for your first serous mistake.

I studied Alabama history for a semester of my freshman year at McGill High in Mobile. Our teacher was a man named Bob Castalian. He had deep wrinkles from working on a shrimp boat, and we called him “Scuba Bob.” The other half of the year was civics, and I had known that material all my life.

I do vividly recall our instructor’s respect for the early native people who inhabited Alabama, the five civilized tribes. He talked at length about a game played by the Cherokees called “ball play.” It was some sort of primitive form of baseball, but they didn’t even have steroids back then. All of the explorers came through Alabama and everything was going fine till about 1860. Then it all fell apart and how are you supposed to teach that anyway.

Come to think of it, I have a renewed appreciation for folks in Germany and Japan teaching about the unpleasantness of 60 years ago. Judge Buzz Arnold wrote a book on colonial Arkansas which pretty much says it all. St. Louis became the big city and economic development moved north.

(Broadcast July 27, 2007)

I don't think that the new standards really threaten Arkansas history. The law still requires all teachers K-6 to teach a unit of Arkansas History. Those who do, will continue to do so, using the new frameworks as much as they did the old ones. Those who haven't bothered in the past may be encouraged to do so now by the integrated nature of the new requirements.
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