Jay Leno had a bit called “Jaywalking” on the Tonight Show where he would go out and talk to a bunch of regular people and often would ask them basic questions about current events and US history, at which they failed miserably.
Following in that tradition, PoliTech, a campus group at Texas Tech University, took to the campus sidewalks and asked several students some basic questions, with pretty much the same results.
Let’s remember that these are university students who have recently graduated from high school. How tough is it to remember which two sides fought the Civil War, and who the American Colonies fought against in the Revolution? It’s not that these kids are dumb. They aren’t. They either weren’t required to learn this information or they weren’t taught it in a manner that engaged them. I’m not suggesting that these particular students are representative of all US university students, but it seems like it’s becoming more common.
As a nation, we are deemphasizing the study of history in favor of other pursuits. Some will blame standardized testing. But the problem is prioritization. History education isn’t getting the priority it should. Sure, there are still students who are interested in history, but shouldn’t every student, even those without an interest in history, understand the basic facts of American History for no other reason than so it’s harder for politicians to fool them by distorting history?