Sunday, February 22, 2015

Book Learnin'

The old wisdom I learned growing up in Colorado was this: The best thing to come out of Oklahoma? I-40. I have been to Oklahoma, and I can say that it is not without its charms. It was there, in Muskogee, that I learned the joy of a Friday night curb party. It was also the place where my Volkswagen threw a rod and had to be towed to a garage in Tulsa. There, the mechanic on duty inspected the vehicle and gave me the following summation: "Veedubyah. That's a foreign car." Thus my journey into the heart of semi-darkness continued.
Eventually I made it home, in large part because of the love, attention, and some of the strongest sweetest iced tea I have ever enjoyed. Somewhere in the gulf between the mechanic and the tea and the curb party falls this little item: Oklahoma Legislators Move To Push AP U.S. History Courses Out Of Schools. "AyPee, that's advanced placement, right?" Yes sir, and the folks in Oklahoma, for the time being, don't want any of that anti-American junk being perpetrated in the name of history. Some of us think of history as objective facts. Others are clever enough to notice that the word "story" appears nestled at the end there. Those are the people who are probably familiar with the phrase, "History is written by the victors." That comes from no less an historical figure than Winston Churchill. He probably gets credit for it because he was a winner. He will also probably be included in the vision of history accepted by the Oklahoma state legislature. And the Republican National Committee. All this talk about slavery and dropping the atomic bomb and nothing about Daniel Boone?
Apparently, the biggest concern for the political types is that there is a fair degree of discussion encouraged by this Advanced Placement course. With fewer dates and people's names to memorize, students might get caught up in questioning the dominant paradigm: America! It would be nice to say that this kind of thinking was limited to states with panhandles, Nice rectangular states like Colorado are feeling the strain to keep thinking as part of the U.S. History curriculum. We know that in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. After that, the rhyme scheme for "got lost and couldn't really find India like he planned," gets a little skewed. But I'm sure the folks in Oklahoma can fix that pretty quick. Even if they can't repair a VW Bug.

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