True history needs to be taught, put a stop to misinformation

February 28, 2017

Sandy Fales

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     On March 2, 1955 Claudette Colvin boarded a bus in Montgomery. During the course of her ride, she refused to give up her seat.

     No, you are not reading that name wrong.

     Fifteen-year-old Colvin was arrested for not giving up her seat to a white person nearly nine months before Rosa Parks refused to do the same. Because of Colvin’s pregnancy, she was no longer the ideal candidate for the face of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, so Rosa Parks was chosen to be the face of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

     Yes, the boycott was a planned idea with the goal of aiding the civil rights movement. But most of us were not taught this side of the story.

     Historical misinformation is all too common in public primary schools. By teaching misinformation, we create the need to backtrack and reteach old information with new details, which can cause even more confusion.

     I’ve been told that kids are not ready to hear the real history, dirty details and all.

     My 11-year old daughter asked me to proofread a paper she was writing about the civil rights movement. It just so happens that I am taking a social movements course this semester where we discussed the Montgomery Bus Boycott in class the prior week.

     Scratching your head? Don’t worry, so did my daughter’s English teacher when she was informed of that fun fact.

     Why are we only taught part of what happened?

     I, like most parents, want the best for my kid. That includes knowing the truth when it comes to history.

     If we cannot accurately teach our history as a nation, what good is it to learn it at all?

     When I had class the next week, I asked my professor how often the history that we are being taught in primary education misinforms us.

     She told me that the history we read about in our public school education is most often told from the view of the victors.

     Take the story of Thanksgiving as another example.

     In 1637 Connecticut, over 700 Native American men, women and children were gathered for the annual Green Corn Festival. While they were sleeping, English and Dutchmen killed them by beating and burning.

     The day after the massacre, the governor declared it a day of Thanksgiving. But that is probably not the story you were taught in school.

     We need to teach our children our true history, not just the pretty parts.

     If we cannot teach a certain part of history without hiding it for fear that it is “too much” for our children to know, we should wait to teach it, even if that means waiting until junior high or high school.

     There is no rush.

     Those who don’t seek a post-secondary education might never learn the truth. It should not take a college education or a teacher who thinks outside the box for our youth to know our true histories.

     If we do not allow our children to know what really happened in our history as a country, we become naive. We become a people of only half knowledge. We become liars, and we are teaching our kids to be the same.