Perspective: Kids Need The Truth
I am speaking as an expert on this one: kids can handle uncomfortable truths in U.S. history. And by their exposure to those uncomfortable truths, kids are much more likely to be more open-minded, more empathetic, more skeptical, and much more likely to be a better and more engaged citizen. I’ve seen those transformations over and over again in the thousands of kids I’ve worked with over the last 30 years.
The study of history, ideally, should have a singular focus: tell the truth of what happened, good, bad or ugly. No whitewashing, no demonizing, just the truth.
If we don’t focus on the truth, and there are movements in several states now to minimize what kids are exposed to in our long, messy, heroic, and tragic history, the results would be akin to the following: Imagine living in a large room where someone else has determined which spots are well lit, which are dimly lit and which are completely in the dark. You want to know and see everything in that room, but you are prevented from ever being able to see its entirety clearly. So, you become a person who lives in an ignorance imposed by someone else, which sounds quite undemocratic to me.
History may not exactly repeat itself, but it sure as hell rhymes, sometimes for good and sometimes for ill. If we as a country are tired of the unrest, the upheaval and the angst, then we owe it to our kids to allow them to live in well-lit rooms.
I'm Andrew Nelson and that's my perspective.
Andrew Nelson has been involved in public education for three decades.
He spent for 19 years as a high school and community college English teacher before becoming a high school administrator and the principal of Oregon High School. Now he's back in the classroom as an 8th grade English teacher.
Andrew has earned degrees from both the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire and the University of Wisconsin at Platteville.