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Re: [Phys-l] American History; was Academic Familiarity Breeds Discomfort?

For an instructive recounting of American History, see Gary Wills' recent book <Head and Heart>. Altough it is sub-titled, "American Christianity", the perspective is very broad, and the biases are humanist.

Wills, I understand, was a very popular professor at Northwestern.


On Fri, 25 Jul 2008, John Clement wrote (in part):

Then of course there are the perennial rituals engaged in by elementary
schools which idolize the Pilgrims and their first thanksgiving. The
Pilgrims engaged in the slaughter of Native Americans, and their colony
failed to grow much so it was eventually absorbed by the Mass. Bay colony.
Of course it has now become almost a religious rite, but perhaps injecting
some realism into the holiday would help historical accuracy. The point
here is that the history books are not only fact laden, but often
inaccurate, and the teachers are often unaware of this. Actually the
Pilgims observance was probably more religious than celebratory.
Thanksgiving is just an extension of ancient harvest festivals, and was
observed in other colonies prior to the Pilgrims.

So again, is it academic familiarity, or poor pedagogy? Is it the
dissonance between received knowledge, and prior conceptions that causes
disbelief and the lowering of attitudes?

John M. Clement
Houston, TX

It is research which shows that student attitudes towards science
poorer with each science course taken.

I just can't figure out what the surprise is here.
After every history class I took I disliked history more.
The interesting question would be to compare the effect in science
with other disciplines.

Do kids like math more and more as they take more math courses? I
don't think so.
Art? I notice that all kids like to color, but when they find out that
have to stay within the lines, some start to find other interests.

/and so on.../

This felt uncomfortably like the cold hard slap across the face
of reality. I comfort myself with the personal insight that
there ARE topics, for which enthusiasm increases, as one
gets into them....

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