History Buzz February 28, 2012: David McCullough, Gordon Wood: Students need more uniform teaching of US Constitution, Historians say at panel “The Teaching of Constitutional History in the 21st Century University”

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Students need more uniform teaching of Constitution, historians say

Source: The Oklahoma U Daily 2-28-12

Instructors need to teach the U.S. Constitution to all students in a stimulating way to create well-educated citizens who are aware of their responsibilities, according to seven panelists in a discussion Tuesday.

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Photo by Astrud Reed

Panelist Akhil Reed Amar, Yale Law and Political Science Professor, responds to a question from Diane Rehm, NPR radio program host and event moderator, at Monday’s “The Teaching of Constitutional History in the 21st Century University.”

Students, faculty and visitors crowded into Catlett Music Center to hear noted historians share perspectives on teaching America’s founding in a panel titled, “The Teaching of Constitutional History in the 21st-century University.”

National Public Radio host Diane Rehm moderated the panel, which was part of OU’s inaugural “Teach-In: A Day with Some of the Greatest Teachers in America.”

The U.S. needs leaders and teachers who can make the Constitution relevant to students of all ages and backgrounds, Pulitzer-prize winning historian David McCullough said.

“There is nothing wrong with the younger generation,” he said. “The younger generation is terrific, and any problems they have, any failings they have, and what they know and don’t know is not their fault — it’s our fault.”

Teachers are the most important people in the society, and they should not be blamed for these failings either, McCullough said.

“I think that history, the love of history and the understanding of history begins truly, literally at home,” McCullough said.

In today’s education system students are not trained enough to ask questions, and this is a serious issue, he said.

Some students get all the way to college and have very little knowledge about the Constitution, said Kyle Harper, director of the OU Institute for American Constitutional Heritage.

“One of the exciting things about teaching in college is that you are teaching adults, and you are teaching kids who are becoming adults,” Harper said.

Harper aims to create situations for debate in classrooms to make college students realize that the facts on a page influence their political lives, he said.

In most graduate schools Constitutional history is always there, but undergraduate schools simply neglect it, Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Gordon Wood said. Even in graduate training, issues of race and women have preoccupied graduate training and the writing of history….READ MORE

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