Remember Dieppe

A former colleague of mine mentioned yesterday that the way his school has set up their 8th grade curriculum virtually guarantees that he won’t be able to get through all his learning objectives in American history classes.

In terms of historical content, they’ll finish up around 1900.  Which means that most students will never learn about the failure of Dieppe.  Or why this kid on an unknown beach is saying thank you.  Or why Canada has such odd relationships with its southern neighbor and its cultural progenitor.

Our 8th grade history textbook is 70% bigger than the book our American history teacher used in 8th grade; he still has a copy of it, and he can put them side by side for comparison.  American history hasn’t gotten 70% longer… it’s just that we’re requiring teachers to expose students to more historical perspectives.

But that requirement has put most of the 20th century in blackout for a lot of kids.  They’re eager to learn about the World Wars, the Holocaust, the Korean War, the Vietnam War… but we block it out. “Gotta understand the revolution! Gotta get the American Civil War!”

I learned about Dieppe in high school, but I may be among the last Americans to do so, when I was in high school in the 1980s.

How will digital technologies make the learning load lighter and easier for teachers to transmit to students in the short amout of time they have?

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