The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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The Way I See It: State Board makes the right call on social studies

The Texas State Board of Education decided last week to make some changes to the proposed curriculum standards for social studies.

That’s good news for Neil Armstrong and the Liberty Bell, both of which were originally left out of the new standards but have since been added.

Christmas also got a break from the State Board. Originally, a sixth grade World Cultures and Geography class was to be taught the main holidays of the world’s major religions. Easter made the cut; Christmas didn’t. But that made some people unhappy, so it went back on the list.

My personal favorite addition is the state capitals. Thanks to Gail Lowe of the Board, the capitals made the cut. I don’t really think it’s all that important that elementary school kids know that Pierre is the capital of South Dakota, but if I had to learn that stupid song about the “Fifty Nifty United States” and remember that for some unfathomable reason New York City isn’t the capital of anything, those little suckers can too.

It’s important that we teach children about the world they live in. It’s a crazy, often dangerous place, and soon they’re going to be taking part in it. If they’re going to do a good job, they’ll need to know something about it.

It’s good that students will learn basic geography and about the astronauts and the Liberty Bell. It would be even better if they were taught about all the people who fought and died over the border of Israel and Egypt and why the Middle East is such a volatile place. If they heard John F. Kennedy’s bold statement that “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard,” and understood the audacity of that noble dream. If they read the Declaration of Independence and realized why John Adams and Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were so courageous in enumerating this country’s bold experiment in democracy.

It would be great if we taught those things to our students from their first days in school. But I’m content with them just getting a glimpse. With any luck, that small taste of the complexities of our world will feed their hunger to learn more. They’ll become aware of the great opportunities they’ve been given and the grave responsibilities they’ve inherited. Maybe the world will be a better place for it.

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