American Students Get A Failing Grade On History

Our public schools are failing us, though it goes beyond that. We are failing our children.

The results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress revealed that U.S. schoolchildren have made little progress since 2006 in their understanding of key historical themes, including the basic principles of democracy and America’s role in the world.

Only 20% of U.S. fourth-graders and 17% of eighth-graders who took the 2010 history exam were “proficient” or “advanced,” unchanged since the test was last administered in 2006. Proficient means students have a solid understanding of the material.

The news was even more dire in high school, where 12% of 12th-graders were proficient, unchanged since 2006. More than half of all seniors posted scores at the lowest achievement level, “below basic.” While the nation’s fourth- and eighth-graders have seen a slight uptick in scores since the exam was first administered in 1994, 12th-graders haven’t.

It’s fashionable to blame the government monopoly on schools, and the death grip teachers unions have on that monopoly, for all our education woes. But when it comes to the basics of our society, the American revolution and the resulting representative government, those lessons ought to start at home.

Our education policy in this country is bad, no doubt, but it’s clearly not just the teachers and the bureaucrats who are failing our kids. Children who grow up ignorant of our country’s past become voters who cast their ballots for bread and circuses.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • SigFan

    The problem is that the left control the schools and the curriculum and they do not want the kids to understand the real history of America.  If they did they wouldn’t become good little lefty-bots and that just wouldn’t do.  I agree with you Rob that a certain amount of fault lies with the parents here, but if you think about the demographics involved, most of the parents of these kids are just as or more ignorant of history, and they too for the most part are products of the public education system that has been in the hands of the left since they were in school.  Sad and getting worse.

    • Cherz1967

      The PROBLEM is that idiots raise idiots.  With few exceptions.  History and civics take a back seat to sex education and diversity training.

      • Guest

        Diversity training is civics, especially when some people are trying to raise hateful, bigoted, racist, nationalist children.

        • syantiss

          This is a very bigoted comment… Why are you a hater?

          • Guest

            Are you calling me a bigot, hater?  I am merely exercising my free speech rights.

          • robert108

            You are free to be bigoted, little sparkie, and you have no room to call anyone else a “hater”.  That’s your territory.

          • Guest

            Are you calling me a hater, hater?

          • robert108

            As always, little sparkie, your words convict you.

          • syantiss

            Since when is being a bigot, not an expression of free speech, and, thus, protected by our increasingly irrelevant founding document?

        • JustRuss

          Thank you for finally admitting what the left has done to our education system.

        • robert108

          So-called “diversity training” is social engineering/political indoctrination by the left.  The hateful, bigoted and racist people are on the left.

          • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

            Precisely so, look at their history … no … wait … look at today’s news.

          • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

            Even European countries are beginning to question the notion of diversity (something they already had a lot of) but, unfortunately, too late.

        • Bat One

          “Diversity training” is left-speak for group-think indoctrination.  And while bigotry and racism are lamentable, they are not illegal… particularly in a society that prides itself on freedom of expression.  How people raise their children and the beliefs to which the children are exposed are none of the government’s business.

          • $8194357

            Isn’t it weird how the diversity tolerant crowd are the least tolerant to others not of their indoctrination? In the name of tolerance they become totaly intolerant.

          • Bat One

            The two least common things in life are common sense and common courtesy.  The folks who brag about diversity, inclusiveness, and tolerance, are more intolerant than those to whom they trumpet  their arrogance.  And there is nothing democratic about Democrats either.  

          • syantiss

            Amen.

            I hate it when people call them the democratic party… That just flairs me.

            I also don’t like how blue and red switched… Red is the commie color… They should have wanted to keep it…

          • robert108

            Agree on both counts.  The Dem Party has been preaching class warfare for a very long time.  Now, they’re preaching redistribution of wealth.  Couldn’t be more commie.

          • $8194357

            And then there is this:

            In 1963, according to Jeff Rense, an American version of the Communist Manifesto was entered into the Congressional Record. It listed 45 goals, among them:
            ·        Develop the illusion that total disarmament [by] the United States would be a demonstration of moral strength.
            ·        Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind.
            ·        Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States.
            ·        Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.
            ·        Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers’ associations. Put the party line in textbooks.
            ·        Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, and policy-making positions. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.
            ·        Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of “separation of church and state.”
            ·        Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs. Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the “common man.”
            ·        Infiltrate and gain control of unions.
            ·        Infiltrate and gain control of big business.
            ·        Discredit the family as an institution

          • $8194357

            Amen. To bad I’m the choir.Take care Bat…

          • $8194357

            I’m a big fan of searching root systems. Hers is a small portion of todays leftist Academic root system to ponder upon….

            POLITICAL CORRECTNESS (CULTURAL MARXISM, CRITICAL THEORY, & THE FRANKFURT SCHOOL) This section of DiscoverTheNetworks explores the concept of “political correctness,” the popular term for cultural Marxism. The publication titled “Political Correctness”: A Short History of an Ideology (produced by the Free Congress Foundation and edited by William Lind) provides an outstanding introduction to this topic: America is today dominated by an alien system of beliefs, attitudes and values that we have come to know as “Political Correctness.” Political Correctness seeks to impose a uniformity of thought and behavior on all Americans and is therefore totalitarian in nature. Its roots lie in a version of Marxism which seeks a radical inversion of the traditional culture in order to create a social revolution…. In the twentieth century, the success of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia set off a wave of optimistic expectation among the Marxist forces in Europe and America that the new proletarian world of equality was finally coming into being. Russia, as the first communist nation in the world, would lead the revolutionary forces to victory…. Under Marxist economic theory, the oppressed workers were supposed to be the beneficiaries of a social revolution that would place them on top of the power structure. When these revolutionary opportunities presented themselves, however, the workers did not respond. The Marxist revolutionaries did not blame their theory for these failures. They blamed the workers. . Kind of like corporate indoctrinations go today…When they don’t work, blame the workers…Our Marxist value added theory sure couldn’t be the problem we have a ‘procedure’ for that. …All for mother company
            Part two
            ……One group of Marxist intellectuals resolved their quandary by an analysis that focused on society’s cultural “superstructure” rather than on the economic substructures as Marx did. The Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci and Hungarian Marxist Georg Lukacs contributed the most to this new cultural Marxism…. Among Marxists, Gramsci is noted for his theory of cultural hegemony as the means to class dominance. In his view, a new “Communist man” had to be created before any political revolution was possible. This led to a focus on the efforts of intellectuals in the fields of education and culture. Gramsci envisioned a long march through the society’s institutions, including the government, the judiciary, the military, the schools and the media. He also concluded that so long as the workers had a Christian soul, they would not respond to revolutionary appeals. Georg Lukacs … believed that for a new Marxist culture to emerge, the existing culture must be destroyed. He said, “I saw the revolutionary destruction of society as the one and only solution to the cultural contradictions of the epoch,” and, “Such a worldwide overturning of values cannot take place without the annihilation of the old values and the creation of new ones by the revolutionaries.”Corporate America is still using the failed value added Marxist economics theory in conjunction with the cultural hegemony of political correctness. We are getting hit twice with this agenda of total annihilation of the old values system to be replaced with the new communist revolutionary ones. Twice the bang for the buck here in corporate America, because we are bound by federal government regulations for the PC end of the killing of the old belief system as well as the value added economic substructure for business purposes….along with the vision and mission statements side of the agenda for the collective good and goal achievement mentality. This in turn is the third side of the triangle to ground it all together creating the “new communist man’ just like the PC side of the theory said the black man was the most logical for the role of the oppressed to take the proletariats place in cultural Marxism as all capitalist Americans were racist by nature….It couldn’t be the theory. We as Christians are facing a cunning advisory is what the Word says. Be as innocent as sheep amongst wolves. It couldn’t be the theory tho, that much we know….Has to be the old Jeudeo/Christian western capitalist values not our beloved mother company or mother Russia, no?
            The third side of the rail….
            So how did they do all that you are claiming there?
            . “Cultural Terrorism.” Women, too, were called to rebel against the sexual mores of the time. Lukacs’s campaign of “Cultural Terrorism” was a precursor to what Political Correctness would later bring to American schools. In 1923, Lukacs and other Marxist intellectuals associated with the Communist Party of Germany founded the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University in Frankfurt, Germany. The Institute, which became known as the Frankfurt School, was modeled after the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow. In 1933, when Nazis came to power in Germany, the members of the Frankfurt School fled. Most came to the United States. The members of the Frankfurt School conducted numerous studies on the beliefs, attitudes and values they believed lay behind the rise of National Socialism in Germany. The Frankfurt School’s studies combined Marxist analysis with Freudian psychoanalysis to form the basis of what became known as “Critical Theory.” Critical Theory was essentially destructive criticism of the main elements of Western culture, including Christianity, capitalism, authority, the family, patriarchy, hierarchy, morality, tradition, sexual restraint, loyalty, patriotism, nationalism, heredity, ethnocentrism, convention and conservatism…. This campaign, in turn, provided a basis for Political Correctness … the Critical Theorists of the Frankfurt School opened the door to the racial and sexual antagonisms of the Trotskyites. Leon Trotsky believed that oppressed blacks could be the vanguard of a communist revolution in North America. He denounced white workers who were prejudiced against blacks and instructed them to unite with the blacks in revolution. Trotsky’s ideas were adopted by many of the student leaders of the 1960s counterculture movement, who attempted to elevate the black revolutionaries to positions of leadership in their movement.. … to overthrow the prevailing social order and usher in social revolution based on cultural Marxism. To achieve this, the Critical Theorists of the Frankfurt School recognized that traditional beliefs and the existing social structure would have to be destroyed and then replaced. The patriarchal social structure would be replaced with matriarchy; the belief that men and women are different and properly have different roles would be replaced with androgyny; and the belief that heterosexuality is normal would be replaced with the belief that homosexuality is “normal….Steering committees based on the new and improved no patriarchal morality judgments….Go figure…
            White heterosexual male bad…..Black revolutionary good….Homosexuality good….
            To invert and turn the existing culture upside down as you destroy the old to replace with the new….
            What was once called good now called evil…No room for the old….The Biblical to be replaced with the atheist and secular….Right is wrong. Wrong is right…
            Almost Scriptural, no? Sure reminds me of anti harassment training anyway….We don’t want to offend anyone now do we?

          • Guest

            Perhaps you missed the intentionally inflammatory nature of my remark.

            Why don’t you define ‘group-think’ and we’ll go from there.  Does the study of the phenomena, as you understand it, begin with Francis Galton’s studies at the Plymouth county fair in 1906?

            Or are you just making hollow rhetorical claims?

          • Bat One

            No.. I didn’t miss that at all.  And had it not been there, I would certainly have missed it! 

            I’m not referring to group-think as a phenomena.  Phenomena implies random and unexpected.  What Arthur Koestler described, or George Orwell if you prefer, is neither random nor unexpected, but deliberate, calculated, and controlled (pun intended!), with a very specific objective in mind – willing, witless subservience.

          • Guest

            Is that an empirical claim?

          • Bat One

            Empires have nothing to do with it!

        • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

          In your case, your parents were eminently successful.  You have a comprehensive and diverse set of bigotries as is demonstrated almost hourly on this blog.

        • $8194357

          Nationalist patriotism didn’t have a negitive connotation untill the Marxist revisionist tagged hitler with it. 180 spin move spark. Word smithing revision.

          • Guest

            Perhaps you are forgetting about the US civil war?

          • Bat One

            Would that be the War of Northern Aggression you’re referring to?

          • Guest

            Known by many names and one result.

          • http://enigma-cypher.blogspot.com/ Enigma_Cypher

            “and one result.”

            An increasingly overbearing federal government.

          • Guest

            You blame that on the north?  What a stupid c*nt.  The GOPs since Reagan have been doing their share, c*Nt.

          • badlands4

            How can you go from a rational, well spoken(well typed) post to this one?

            Sometimes, while I don’t agree with you, you post things that at can at least result in a rational discussion, but then you devolve into this…..

          • Guest

            You are making fun of me when enigma is blaming our current bloated federal government on the south loosing the civil war?  Oh come off it?  I think you meant to respond one comment higher up.

          • badlands4

            I am not making fun of you. I am wondering why you switch so quickly from being an adult who carries on a rational and well thought out discussion(even if I don’t agree with you) to this.

            Even though I am a  big states rights person, I cannot put myself in any way or form in the position of blaming the north for the Civil War. Slavery was evil and it took the Civil War to end it regardless of other issues between the North and South.

            That being said, enigma, from the posts I found on  this thread(I could have missed one that disproves my point),  kept his cool and simply stated his point of view. I don’t have to agree with him on the Civil War( and I do NOT) to appreciate a discussion free of calling people slang terms for the vagina…..shrug.

            I would like to see the rational Sparkie come out and play because there are issues I would like to debate with you.

          • Guest

            I pay attention to the food on my plate, not the garnish.

          • badlands4

            Guess  I am slow, but I am not sure what you mean. If you mean you ignore the swearing in order to focus on the issue then I believe you miss out on intelligent debates You are obviously quite intelligent, so not sure why you would “throw that away”, if you will. Most people are not going to focus on your opinion, they are going to focus on the swearing.

            Swearing is a kind of conversational laziness. It draws people away from the “food”, as they only see the garnish.

          • Guest

            Sorry to offend.  It’s probably not a good idea to take my rationales too seriously.  What works for me, here, may or may not work for you, over there.  Perhaps a scrap of it will be familiar and will be able to do some work for you over there, but not the whole hog.  

            Hence the appeal of states rights and small government.  We need not agree, nor should I convince you.  Democracy is set up to draw resources from a varied population.  Be stubborn, keep it varied.  Diversity of thought is the most important resource we have moving forward, into new and unforeseen problems.In their rush to command universal assent and a unified voice, the Republicans have, ipso facto, become a big government party.  Alas.

          • badlands4

            You didn’t offend me :).

          • Jesus

            It’s called meth addiction and being mentally unbalanced.

          • robert108

            Another hate-filled, non factual comment from little sparkie, the hater.

          • http://enigma-cypher.blogspot.com/ Enigma_Cypher

            I never said that it was just the Dems. Of course the GOP shares the blame (especially George W.) 

            Do you want to debate or do you want to curse at me? If you want an honest argument, we can have one.

    • $8194357

      The communists said they wanted to revise history in mandatory public education. To replace patriotic nationalism with party line indoctrinations. It worked just like Lenin said it would. To indoctrinate the child instead of converting the adult. The Marxist think tanks of old new you couldn’t control someone with a Christian soul and true knowlege of the Biblical connections to the founding documents. It started in earnest in the late 40’s thru the UN’s UNESCO program introduced by Russia. Funny how Israel reclaimed her home land in 48 and the anti Israel UN came about in 49. The one world leaders known as the Bilderburgs started meeting yearly in 1950 and the spread of the communist one world revisionist spin came after the McCarthy fiasco thanks to hollywood and leftist propaganda from the internationaly controled media. Been studying on it for a spell. They all tie together and support the same goals and agendas. Jihad and the Muslim Brotherhood are now following the same proven path…Old Kruchev pounding that shoe on the podium shouting we will bury you was the warning of the Muslim anti Jeudeo/Christian connection. Remeber it was a soviet sympathisor who shot JFK but it was a Palistinian who shot Bobby. Weird huh? When studying one world ideology and non revisionist history you can pick up on the patterns and similarities in the tyrants aproach and ideolgy. The jihadists have used dhimmi’s to do their bidding thru out their caliphates. (Hitler comes to mind) Atheist, communist history can be seen to be the prolog to where we are at today. What happened on the left 100 years ago where the seeds sown to where we ended up today. They have indeed done what the ACLU and the CPUSA set out to do so long ago. Liberty is a gift from God and must be given due dilligence as once it is lost it is only God who can give it back..

      • Bat One

        The communists said they wanted to revise history in mandatory public education.

        What a coincidence!  Bill Ayers has written the very same thing!

        • syantiss

          Point! :-)

        • $8194357

          And he put himself in postion to do just that. He wrote most of the curriculm for teachers colleges to get his “social justice” marxist bias indoctrinated into all teachers if they want to be certified…Coincidence? No.

  • ec99

    Talk to a college student.  Most don’t know who was president when they were born, or what happened past 2 days ago.

  • awfulorv

    You can tell a lot of a people by focusing on what interests them. For instance, if Casey Anthony were not interesting to a large percentage of potential consumers/buyers you can bet your sweet arse you would not see, or hear, of her again. Nor would you have heard of Natalee Halloway.  I believe Greta owes, a portion, at least, of each paycheck to that family. Put Lady GaGa, Paris Hilton, the Kardashian family, and the Weiner man,in that same trashy basket. These are the people who helped elect the most destructive president we’ve ever had, and will do so again, unless we forge a concerted effort, think 2010, to defeat him.

    • syantiss

      I’d very much like to see the comment volume graphs on this blog for those “issues” you mention versus other imminently less important “issues” on topics like… Say… This.

  • syantiss

    “Children who grow up ignorant of our country’s past become voters who cast their ballots for bread and circuses.”

    HA! Bread and Circuses… That’s a good one!!! That almost feels like some kind of historimical refarance… Just wish I could place it… Europeein Paparazzi? Nah… Oprah? Hmmm.. Nah… American Idol… Yeah, just might be…

    Wadnt nothin’ a happen befer TV no how…

    • $8194357

      Rome..Ceasar and the government provided bread and circus for the crowd as the public treasury was lost…

      • syantiss

        ;-)

    • syantiss

      And in other news…   The CIA web site has just been taken down by the same hacker that took out the FBI and Senate web sites last week.

  • Guest

    Blaming the parents because otherwise you’d have to blame Bush.

    • syantiss

      Is that as far back as you can remember?

      How about the creation of the Federal Department of Education? That’s when education really started to decline… Isn’t that… Isn’t that something like centralized planning??

      Centralized planning FAILS everywhere it’s tried.

      • Guest

        So you must be an adamant anti-trust law supporter?  You must really want some regulation in the financial sector, eh?  The size of amazon.com and many banks must alarm you, eh?

        • syantiss

          I want the FED ended and the Federal Govenment as much out as possible, then we need to see, cause the game changes.

          If we keep the status quo… Yeah…. What you said.

          • Guest

            You would rather live in the United States of Amazon.com, eh?

          • syantiss

            Um… Does that look remotely like what I said?

            If we close the FED and remove the Federal Government from all but it’s Constitutional mandates… Banking would, I hope, return to lending on their reserves rather than their made up lending numbers based upon 1/100 of their reserves. Corporations would be FAR less likely to grow out of control with capital. I don’t think we’d need the level of regulation we have today if we didn’t have the FED, and manipulation via law. But I added, we’ll see, because we still might need some additional regulations.

            Once the game is changed, we’d have to see what we’d need to fix and then I’d recommend doing that on a state by state basis.

          • http://enigma-cypher.blogspot.com/ Enigma_Cypher

            Your attempts to obfuscate reveal your lack of an ability to argue. 

          • Bat One

            Seth,  Some evening, when neither of us has anything important to attend to, we should discuss the end of the Federal Reserve.  I oppose doing so, but I suspect you may be the only one of those who favor the idea who can give a detailed, cogent, and realistic assessment of the consequences of doing so.

          • syantiss

            I’d like that! Though, I consider you more learned and educated than myself, so it will likely be a greater education on my part.

            I’d be excited by the prospects of hearing a rational reason to keep the fed, meaning not mired with leftist demagoguery. :-)

            I gotta get Rob to open up the reader blog sign up again, so I can post some of my thoughts on money and the purpose of the FED.

          • Bat One

            I’m more inclined to think that rather than a “rational reason for keeping the Fed” the best reason may be the consequences of abandoning it.  Kinda like Churchill’s “except for all the rest” endorsement of democracy, huh.  We’ll see!

            Let me see if I can impose on Rob to get you a Reader Blog.  If not, I’ll have to do a front page post on the Fed and we’ll go from there.

          • syantiss

            Cool.

            In my view, we’re rapidly approaching an imposed reset… One of the few times that the pain of getting off the paper crack will be tolerable as we’re enduring other pains…

            Accepting the notion as a possibility would make it an easier pill while we’re already in dire straits.

            Not to get too deep, but every mandate the FED had has been an utter failure…

  • Guest

    We have to make sure that the kids know that we locked up the Japs during WWII, that we backed a genocidal Catholic McCarthy in Vietnam after Ike (largely) took over France’s failed colony.  We have to make sure that they know that we have been backing drug pushers in the international sphere since the late 1940s.  The kids need to know how we intervened to install brutal, classist strongmen across the world since the early fifties.  

    They ought to know about Bush Sr’s illegal war in Panama where US troops blocked out media, razed neighborhoods, killed non-combatants in droves, and buried them in a series of mass graves while wildly under reporting the death toll of that conflict — all to get one cocaine smuggler who had been on our payroll until a few years prior.

    It would also be important for them to know the context in which Qutb penned the al Qaeda bible, during the period when we and a bunch of former Nazis and the muslim brotherhood teamed up to bring Nassar to power in Egypt.

    Oh man, there is so much important history.

    • syantiss

      They should know all of the bad with the good… That’s how discerning people make solid judgements about potential outcomes.

    • robert108

      The stuff you make up isn’t “history”, little sparkie.  It’s BS.

      • Guest

        Which claims are you challenging?

        • syantiss

          I only really read the “locking up Japanese” before my response… Some of the others look dubious, but I’m not that interested in debating them. ;-)

          • Guest

            It’s good to back away.  THose aren’t worth debating because a whole host of truth may come out which is at odds with the cherry -picked conservative versions of the cold war era.

    • http://enigma-cypher.blogspot.com/ Enigma_Cypher

      “We have to make sure that the kids know that we locked up the Japs during WWII,”

      Germans and Italians were locked up as well. 

      • Guest

        Unfortunately the Italians were eventually released.

        • http://enigma-cypher.blogspot.com/ Enigma_Cypher

          Yeah, the Germans all ended up here North Dakota. 

  • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

    There are many excellent sources for American History easily available outside of the public schools—much more interesting, and likely to be far more comprehensive and accurate.

    • Jamermorrow

      My college textbooks devoted an entire section for each period of history on gays, minorities and women. Luckily I have been a libertarian/anarchist from a young age and read outside of class materials. If you think history is bad try talking econ with people.

  • Jamermorrow

    Schools can only teach so much. I have a major in history but I wouldn’t know shit if I didn’t read for myself. How many kids read for fun? I read about 100 non fiction books a year. I don’t watch TV. Leftists and rightists both try to interpret history to help their cause. You need to take in as much as you can and form your own opinions. 

    • http://enigma-cypher.blogspot.com/ Enigma_Cypher

      “I read about 100 non fiction books a year. I don’t watch TV.”

      Way to go. Same with me. What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year?

      • Guest

        Best non-fiction books I’ve read so far this year:
        1) Fire and Memory by Fernandez-Galiano
        2) The Dappled World by Cartwright

        Neither was released this year, but I didn’t get around to reading them until this year and loved them both.  The former is recommended — a history of science and architecture organized by comparing Frank Lloyd Wright’s style to enlightenment era modernist architecture.  

        The latter is more technical and jargon-heavy and you may not agree with the author’s orientation.  Still, the discussion of Lessing and fables in the beginning of the latter is worth a read nonetheless.  The latter is very good at critiquing science without falling to dogmatically into the pro or con camps.  It can be boring at times because the cases studies are highly detailed and mostly gleaned from physics, so some readers will want to fast-forward certain sections.

        • http://enigma-cypher.blogspot.com/ Enigma_Cypher

          I might actually read those. Especially Fire and Memory. I haven’t read much on architecture and that is something I wish to improve on.

          My best non-fiction book I’ve read this year is The Black Homelands of South Africa by Butler, Rotberg and Adams. I’ve been studying African history for a while. In the 60’s and 70’s, South Africa set up a series of “homelands” for the black population (according to tribe), with the eventual goal of making these homelands “independent countries”. They had all the trappings of “independence”, i.e. flags, national anthems, constitutions, military forces and elections, but in reality were almost completely dependent on the Apartheid government for money. In 1994 they were abolished when Mandela was elected president.

          I wanted to know more about the homelands, but there really isn’t that much information about them on the internet. The book was published in 1977, so it’s obviously dated, but it provided the information I was looking for.

          My best fiction book I’ve read so far this year is Oms en Serie by Stefan Wul. It was a sci-fi novel published in France in the 1950’s. It was the basis for the 1973 animated film Fantastic Planet. It was finally published in English last year.

          It’s not as “psychedelic” as Fantastic Planet was, and a lot of the undertones are similar to Planet of the Apes but it’s still a good read.

          Have you read any fiction this year that you really liked?

          • Guest

            Honestly I don’t read enough fiction.  I am rereading Crime and Punishment now because it was free and I haven’t been using my kindle enough since I got it.

            The new David Foster Wallace book comes recommended from my old man as amazing prose, but he hasn’t gotten into the heart of the book yet.  Also, there are now two recent Pynchon novels which I haven’t read yet.

            The Fire and Memory book is amazing.  Some of the content you won’t like, e.g. he talks a bit about designing architecture with energy consumption in mind, but lots of it you will.  He speaks about the ahistorical and problematic nature of lots of the enlightenment ideals, there’s a lot of interesting history of physics, economics, and architecture.  There’s a great sub-chapter on the history of energy accounting which you will get a kick out of.  All said, it’s a good read, lots of cool illustrations, it goes fast, and it turns you on to tons of other good reads.

            I have a penchant for history of science books, so if you ever need a good one recommended, just ask.  I was also pretty weak on architecture, but this book is much broader than just architecture.  Whether or not you wholly agree with the author, you’ll appreciate the research and organization it takes to bring off a book like that.

            I also read Feynman’s lectures from the sixties on the ‘Character of Physical Law’ which is a really engrossing read attempting to explain quantum physics and the relationship of math to natural science to a layperson audience.  I highly recommend it, especially chapter three on the distinction between the babylonian method and the greek method.  It’s interesting for a number of reasons.  I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of it.

          • http://enigma-cypher.blogspot.com/ Enigma_Cypher

            “I have a penchant for history of science books, so if you ever need a good one recommended, just ask.”

            Actually, if you wanted to list any book that you might recommend, I’d be interested. It’d be a while before I got to reading them (I keep a list of books that I want to read), but I’m always interested in book recommendations. 

      • badlands4

        I agree with you Jamermorrow! I am a voracious reader(I tend to read more fiction that non fiction however ;) )

        I just finished:

        America Wasteland. It is a book about how much food we waste in this country. I don’t agree with his political views necessarily but when I lived overseas I was shamed by the amount of food I wasted  when I saw how NOTHING was wasted, regardless of how bruised an apple may be or the amount of  mold on bread. I would throw it away and I usually had perishable foods I never cooked in my fridge that ended up in the garbage. They would just cut away the bad parts and use everything else.

        In Cheap We trust: about why frugality went out of style and why it is a good thing to be frugal, not something to  be embarrassed about. Again, don’t  agree with  the  political views, but a good book to make you think about what is really important to you.

        And a book who’s title I don’t remember, but it about poverty and welfare and how welfare most often locks people in poverty and how charities and private citizens can do a much better job of helping a person down on their luck.

        I tend to stay in one genre until I get bored with it, or my brain switches to another subject I want to explore..lol

  • borborygmi

    text books are usually produced after the Texas Dep’t of Ed. has it say.    Definitely a bastion of liberal thinking.    .     I also heard about indoctrination in a local class of 1st graders.   They were marching around with flags and being indoctrinated by singing songs such as ‘It’s a Grand Ole Flag’ and ‘America’
    ..       Jamermorrow has it right.  Fewer kids read,  fewer kids care.  It should be up to the parents to start this and keep up with the kids education.  It is so easy to blame the system and not take the ‘personal responsibilty’ of finding out what your kids are learning.    Judging by the atrocious numbers it cuts across all political and social/economic groups including those that are staunch conservatives.  The problem……..look in the mirror. 

    • Guest

      the grip texas has on young kids textbooks is abysmal.

      someone needs to call out the textbook manufacturers.

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