One Important Factor in Explaining What’s the Matter with Me…

One Important Factor in Explaining What’s the Matter with Me… October 12, 2013

…is that I basically learned American history from Stan Freberg. Today being Columbus Day, I feel that it is important for all Americans to know the facts about the discovery of the New World.

By the way, one of the reasons Dawn Eden rawks is that she actually got to interview Freberg. It is only my duty to burn with envy, of course. I have wasted my life.

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  • tj.nelson

    The Chinese discovered America.

    • Chesire11

      Many peoples seem to have discovered America, but it was Christopher Columbus who established regular, sustained commerce between the old and new worlds.

    • Chesire11

      Just as an aside, as I recall, they have found evidence of indirect commerce linking the indigenous “red clay peoples” of the arctic from the new and old worlds. This is distinct from what Columbus did in that with Columbus, we had individuals who left one world, and traveled to the other. The red clay peoples’ links were indirect, it doesn’t appear that any of them made the trip, or were even aware of the extent of their trade routes, but there is evidence that peoples at one end traded good with intermediaries who then traded the goods with peoples from the other extreme.

      It was a sort of relay, with trade goods as the baton.

  • Percy Larsen

    factoid of the weekend:

    When and where was the first Christian see established in the New World?

    Hint: Over four centuries before you think it was.

    * * * *,_Greenland#Diocese_of_Gar.C3.B0ar

  • JasperBuck

    I came across a children’s book written in 1960 about the exploration of America called Explorers in a New Word, written by Edith McCall. It’s written in a matter-of-fact style that neither tries to justify, nor criticize. To borrow from old Howie Cosell, she just tells it like it was. Reminds me of all the books I read as a kid. It’s such an absolute joy to read. Happy Columbus Day!

    • Chesire11

      It’s unfortunate that so many history books today eschew strong narrative, and instead focus upon a more anthropological study of history. Students learn a lot about how people lived the way they did in earlier times, but lack a strong sense of context that explains WHY they lived that way. Add to this the chaotic nature of textbooks, in which multiple sidebars compete for the students’ ever dwindling attention spans, and eclipse the central text, and you have a recipe for failure.

      A good grasp of history involves a strong awareness of the narrative (events), and the texture (customs and lifestyles). What is really tragic about the decline in the teaching of history in America is that, not only does the study and interpretation of the historical record instill critical thinking as well as good writing skills, but a good historical awareness is crucial to good citizenship in any culture, but MOST especially in a democracy. I would argue that much of the decline of our American experiment, and the triumph of political idiocy derives directly from a general historical illiteracy.

      The decline of historical awareness, and the decline of the humanities in general, in favor of ever greater concentration on math and the sciences is producing ever an ever more technologically proficient, utilitarian, yet culturally illiterate society, incapable of discerning meaning, or setting priorities.

      It is a fundamental cultural crisis that threatens to bring a new dark age upon the Western World.

      • Dave G.

        Well said. It’s one of the reasons we decided to home school. I remember cringing at the history books my boys brought home. Kudos for noticing the sidebar obsession (not that there is a thing wrong with a special note or fun fact along a sidebar, but it’s well overblown today).
        And thank you for point out that all truth is not found in STEM. That there are others things (religion, philosophy, the humanities, the baseball scores) that are worth something in their own way.

      • Elaine S.

        I also recently read an article saying that reading classic novels and other complex works of fiction (not formulaic, i.e. whodunits or romances) helps people become more empathetic toward others, because it enables them to get an idea how others might think “from the inside.” I could see this being especially helpful to people on the Asperger’s or autism spectrum, since they have particular difficulty reading body language and other cues typical folk use to “read” how others think. The article also notes that an increasing number of schools are dropping or cutting back on the use of literary fiction in the classroom. Hmmm, what could possibly go wrong?

        • Chesire11

          Lol! That is perhaps a bit TOO strong for what I had in mind.


  • Chesire11

    When my wife and I were homeschooling our children, I had trouble finding history texts that actually taught history with a strong narrative. Then I ran across the “Yesterday’s Classic” website, which prints to order, children’s books that are now in the public domain. I taught ancient Greek, and Roman history, with texts that have been out of print for almost a century, as well as reading versions of “Beowulf” and “The Song of Roland” adapted to 12 year old reading proficiency because of that site.

    It’s a great resource for any home-schoolers out there.