Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education

Great Men and Women
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Author:  Maggie Chambers [ Wed Mar 29, 2006 1:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Great Men and Women

I agree with the idea that historical figures should not be watered down when taught to children. While you may have to oversimplify their work, you shouldn't simply cut out anything that seems radical or controversial.

However, I also think it's a mistake to turn any academic area into hero worship. People are not perfect, and their ideas and actions aren't perfect. There are people in history who did great things and made vital contributions to their field and to the world. But it's important to remember that they were just people, and to avoid portraying them as superhuman paradigms of perfection. For example, Thomas Jefferson owned 650 slaves, and FDR reportedly had numerous affairs and stayed married to Eleanor for the sake of appearances. Also, "bad people" are not 100% bad: it can be argued that Stalin was extremely cooperative with the United States during WWII and its aftermath.

Instead of focusing on heroes and enemies, we should present students a more complete picture of events and people. Otherwise, they won't learn to evaluate them themselves.

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