Sunday, June 07, 2009

Grading America's Sacred Cow

I'm grading AP US History exams this week. What was I thinking? Anyway, the question I am grading is on the American Revolution. It's a standard question about major events between 1763 and 1776.

I've talked about my annoyance at how we think about the Revolution before. We still see this event in black and white, with the British as actual bad guys and the Founding Fathers as saints. Even progressives, people who are usually open to thinking in new ways about the past, ar e loathe to touch this question. In fact, many times, I've seen people get real touchy when you suggest the Revolution was a lot more complicated than it is usually made out to be.

Obviously, high school teachers are still teaching this subject in a black and white manner. With very few exceptions, students buy whole hog into the myths of the Revolution. According to them, the British were completely wrong, the Founders were heroes, the Tories don't even exist, and in the end, the greatest country the world has ever seen began.

I don't want to again revisit my arguments that maybe winning the Revolution wasn't as black and white as it seems. You can read about it here.

But I am very interested in how you can feel the anti-tax sentiment pour out of the students. Has our revolutionary mythology helped foster some of our greatest problems today? I wonder if those familiar with the revenue problems of California would think so.