Knowledge is half the battle | News, Sports, Jobs
I have found myself, in recent months, teaching more than he ever seems to have before. We live in a time that requires a lot of basic information to understand, and too many people don’t have it.
Friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances caught up in conversation… people have questions and often assume that because I work in a newsroom, I will have answers. Sometimes I do. Most of the time, I end up learning with them.
“I don’t know. Let’s look at it,” is one of my favorite things to say.
When I am able to put into context – mid-19th century American politics, the Industrial Revolution, the robber barons, the carving up of the world after World War I, 1930s Western Europe, World War II, reconstruction, Jim Crow, the civil rights movement, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (it was only 1974, by the way)… you get the idea – a common theme of those I speak with is “Why didn’t I know? I don’t think we learned that in school.
Frankly, I don’t remember why I know so much. I had good, honest, serious history teachers at school. But I was also raised by a voracious consumer of history books, who frequently looked up from what he read and said. “Huh! Did you know that in….” It was never something any of us had experienced before. And I’ve read quite a bit of history myself now.
But when it comes to public school education, of course, you can’t fit all of human history into 12 years of once-a-day lessons. Given how incomplete it must be, then why on earth is anyone still arguing that we should be teaching LESS, especially since we live in a time when it seems like a good idea for citizens to know as much as possible about what’s going on?
Going back to that Equal Credit Opportunity Act: women around 50 or younger might not know, for example, that it’s only been since 1974 that banks have been banned to discriminate on the basis of sex or marital status.
I spoke about it to a colleague who answered me “Oh! That’s horribly recent.
Yes. Yes it is.
And I know I didn’t learn that one in school. Obviously, neither did she. And I may be making unfair assumptions, but I guess in a time when elected officials are giddy at the prospect of a hotline to report teachers who discuss the not-so-nice parts of our country’s history, it’s not taught in too many high school classes now.
This is just one tiny example of many troubling ones.
People desperate for a way to understand what’s happening nationally and globally crave the kind of context you can only get if you walk away from the information people who point you to one side or the other. other and you are looking for historical facts instead. Know your sources, if you do online “to research,” but. It’s a minefield in itself.
Those who have no idea where they came from are too likely to head straight back in that direction without realizing it. (Although don’t get me wrong, some do; and that’s what they want.)
To be informed. Look for credible outlets (like us!) for information on current events. And look for well-researched, scholarly works on our history. Pardon the corny reference to that old GI Joe cartoon, but knowing IS half the battle; and we cannot enter this one unarmed.
Christina Myer is editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be contacted by email at [email protected]