Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: tomthemick@gmail.com

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Back At It, My Way This Time

People ask if I miss teaching. Up to very recently I’ve said, “Sometimes, but the feeling goes away quickly.” I do miss it though. When I had autonomy in my classroom, which I did up to retirement, teaching was a very gratifying experience. But the federal government has been taking over more and more of public education and it became apparent that I would soon lose my academic freedom and be forced to teach the way “progressives” (a misnomer, that) would dictate. Then there are increased meetings and more meaningless paperwork that accompany increased federal intervention.

People who consider themselves progressive - a euphemism for liberal - have long been in charge of academia at every level. Most recently, they’ve consolidated their control over curriculum for US History - the subject I taught - by issuing a new exam for AP US History courses. We cannot see the new exam though. According to Stanley Kurtz, Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, “a complete sample exam has been released, although only to certified AP U.S. History teachers [who] have been warned, under penalty of law and the stripping of their AP teaching privileges, not to disclose the content of the new sample AP U.S. History Exam to anyone.”

During my career, most states mandated that US History be taught at 5th, 8th, and 11th grades. Students were required to pass it in order to receive a high school diploma. By issuing the new exam, the College Board will changing the way it can be taught at all levels. Kurtz claims: “the new AP U.S. History Exam is about to entrench a controversial and highly politicized national school curriculum without proper notice or debate. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and a full understanding of our founding principles are on the way out.  Race, gender, class, and ethnicity are coming in, all in secrecy and in clear violation of the Constitution’s guarantee that education remain in control of the states.”
Many of the same people who brought you Common Core are bringing this. It’s not a shock to me because the handwriting had been on the wall for years, and it’s the primary reason I took early retirement at sixty. It has also been obvious to homeschooling parents. A group of them in Auburn, Maine contacted me over the summer to ask if I’d be willing to teach their children a US History course in which the Judeo-Christian values inherent in America’s founding would be emphasized rather than played down. In other words, would I be willing to teach a course to high schoolers in the traditional way? At first I thought, “Nah, I don’t have time.” Then I pondered it for a week and agreed to at least sit down and discuss it, and to pitch an idea I’ve always wanted to try.

It first occurred to me several years ago when the principal told me to pick a new textbook for my US History course because the old ones were falling apart. Every text I examined was boring because they all avoided controversial subjects. And, they all had a leftist bias. Instead of buying one of the boring, contemporary, liberal texts for nearly $50 apiece, I proposed purchasing two books for each student, which together cost less than half of one mainstream textbook. The first was the Marxist Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States.” The second was Schweikart and Allen’s “A Patriot’s History of the United States,” which was written from a traditional, conservative perspective and formatted as an antithesis to Zinn’s book. Students would read passages from each on the same theme, then compare and contrast the opposing viewpoints presented. The principal nixed the idea, however, saying, “You could do that, but you’re retiring in a few years. Whoever replaces you wouldn’t likely have the knowledge or experience to pull it off. So, let’s go with a traditional textbook.”

Meeting with the parents, I emphasized that if their children enrolled in typical public or private universities, they’d be surrounded by people who see US History the way Zinn did - from an exclusively left-wing perspective. They would need to understand that pervasive viewpoint and be able to formulate critical analyses - in their own minds, at least. They won't likely be allowed to actually produce such critical analyses in research papers however. Instructors and administrators who celebrate diversity on college campuses today believe only in diversity of skin color or ethnicity. They discourage diverse methods of thinking, especially conservative ones. Many are openly hostile to conservative Catholics and my students would need to understand why. One of my charges this year will be to help them with that, and to fortify them intellectually to withstand the special disdain progressives reserve for people like us.
We start next week.

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13 Comments:

Anonymous A. Dabczynski, Provo, UT said...

Tom - I think your proposed curriculum is fascinating, and will both engage and enlighten students tremendously. You should video the classes and post them (or sell them in the true spirit of capitalism!) on line. I'd love to see them!

9/2/14, 6:29 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

"They discourage diverse methods of thinking, especially conservative ones. Many are openly hostile to conservative Catholics and my students would need to understand why. One of my charges this year will be to help them with that, and to fortify them intellectually to withstand the special disdain progressives reserve for people like us." Knowing your commensurate disdain for liberals, you make it sound like you want to teach the students to vilify democrats. If you want to teach history, then just teach history. Why indoctrinate them with enmity towards democrats? Won't you then be guilty of exactly what you condemn in our academic sphere?

9/2/14, 8:09 PM  
Anonymous Frostproof said...

Steve accuses Tom of wanting to vilify "democrats", but Tom never mentioned the word. He used "liberal" and "progressive", both of which for Steve, evidently, are synonyms for democrat. Is Steve implying the average democrat is too stupid to see the differences?

The history of the US for the last 100 years or so is inextricably mixed with the progressive takeover and distortion of education. If you leave it out, you're not teaching history.

By the way, Steve, I think you meant consummate, not commensurate. Hopefully Tom will agree also to teach a traditional course in vocabulary.

9/3/14, 5:48 AM  
Anonymous Mr Ed said...

I wonder what Tom will teach about Lincoln, that he saved the Union and stopped slavery or that he brought us rabid federalism the exact scourge that plagues us now.

There has been much changing of history throughout time by the victors. I guess it might be a matter of degrees of lies, small lies to big woppers of lies all fed as propaganda to the ignorant masses.

History is always subject to bias.

It is too bad that people can't even remember what occured 10 years ago or last week

9/3/14, 6:18 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Frostproof - I didn't mean consummate, which means skillful or perfect. A skillful disdain doesn't make much sense. However a commensurate disdain does: commensurate meaning equal in measure or extent. I think Mr. McClaughlin's disdain for liberals is equal in measure or extent to liberals' disdain for conservatives. So perhaps a course in vocabulary might be necessary, but we disagree on who will benefit. You are correct in that he didn't mention Democrats, but I don't think there is any confusion who he is referring to when he writes about progressives and liberals. I think he would be loathe to describe Rebublicans as progressive or liberal.

9/3/14, 7:20 AM  
Anonymous Frostproof said...

I guess we travel in different circles, Steve. Most of the Democrats I know are not, or say they are not, liberal. Most of them say they are progressive (small P) and don't know what Progressive (big P) means - or claim not to know.

Most of the conservatives I know, Tom included, are certainly not loathe to point out the progressive Republicans in Congress, and wherever else there's a confirmed sighting. The RINOs in the Senate (including Maine's own) and the House are thinly disguised Democrat-Lite, although the label "liberal" is poison to them. Or they claim it is.

9/3/14, 8:35 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Frostproof, I appreciate your rational responses. Anger and insult get old fast. “The history of the US for the last 100 years or so is inextricably mixed with the progressive takeover and distortion of education. If you leave it out, you're not teaching history.” It sounds like you’re talking about teaching how a subject is taught, which is very different from teaching the actual subject itself. John Adams said, “Facts are stubborn things.” History is immutable. The people, places, dates of history are indelible. How those facts are remembered and reremembered over the decades and centuries is an entirely different subject. Learning the facts of history and the context in which they occurred is history. Learning the forces and strategies that pushed and pulled those events as they happened is history. How those events are being taught now and subject to a conservative or liberal makeover is not history. It would be an interesting subject, but I just don’t think it’s history.

9/3/14, 6:12 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Steve, I agree with almost all of your post above. We must teach facts. Yes, they are immutable and indelible. Which ones we emphasize and which ones we leave out is a big part of our bias.

What bothers me about the mainstream media isn't how they report things. Each segment is generally accurate. It's what they ignore and what they stress. Current events reporting is history fresh off the grille and it's a good example of how mainstream history texts are written. Leaving out Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, while stressing gender, class, and minority contributions is also a good example of picking and choosing facts.

My new students must understand how academia views the world - from the left. Patterns of thinking are also part of history. Ideas shape events. Religion is a factor. Hard to deny as we watch the emergence of ISIS.

9/4/14, 8:04 AM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Frostproof is right too when he/she says I'm disdainful of mainstream Republicans. I am, very much so. I'll not vote for Susan Collins unless the race tightens up, but I'd never vote for Shenna Bellows. I'd love to get rid of Mitch McConnnell and John Boehner.

It's heartening to watch what's happening in the UK. Nigel Farage and UKIP are making great gains. I wish we had his counterpart here, but I just don't see anyone on the horizon with his chutzpah. The Tea Party isn't organized enough to stage what UKIP is doing. Cruz is okay and so are Mike Lee and Trey Gowdy, but so far, they're all lacking what Farage has. Gowdy might emerge, but not soon enough to have any effect for 2016.

9/4/14, 8:05 AM  
Anonymous Edna said...

Mr. McLaughlin, can you give us some proof that Howard Zinn was a Marxist?

9/15/14, 4:10 PM  
Anonymous James Madison said...

Bothy that's a brilliant f&@/@!?& Strategy! Teach kids there are only ever two ways of thinking about an issue! Bravo! Whatever you do don't teach them to think for themselves or that this two party system is a complete joke. Have you ever read the federalist papers? The constitution? I don't think you have because if so you wouldn't be peddling a system that was detested by most of the founding fathers. You'd be fighting this sham instead of promoting it. Why dumb down the youth anymore than they already are? Are you some kind of sadist? ( sorry, I know you are a perverted blood thirsty sadist. Anyone promoting Zionism is.. You have time to repent and reconsider before you are judged by the almighty. Find the true meaning of Christ a0before it's too late.)

Leave the kids alone for crying out loud. You don't get enough validation by writing this two party garbage and promtong a system that is a lie??

9/23/14, 8:43 PM  
Anonymous Mr. Mr said...

Maybe ask the kids to apply the laws of physics to the events of 9/11. Once you do that and realize what an egregious and truly evil lie the "official" narrative is ask them why we have been lied to...again, that's the laws of physics as they pertain to the events of that day.

Then maybe explain to the kiddies why you promote dual citizens making our laws ( hear the founding fathers rolling in their graves do you?) or that our income tax is directly related to the federal reserve act and how we shouldn't have either of these things.

Ah, f@&$ it, just keep promoting lies and dumbing down America.,.its a hell of a lot easier...

9/23/14, 8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. McLaughlin, you are an anti-gay, anti-transgender moralist. As a public moralist and upholder of conservative family values, how do you reconcile that with the fact that you have at least one bastard grandchild? Also, how do you feel knowing that the mother of your bastard grandson also recently had an affair with a married man? I know his name but I won't reveal it because his wife is a friend of mine. This same daughter of yours is currently co-habiting with a person of the opposite gender without benefit of marriage. Are adultery, fornication and bastardy the values you privately instill in your own immoral children while lecturing the world on chastity and decency? What a hypocrite you must be tolerate in your own family the very things you publicly condemn!

10/16/14, 11:16 AM  

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