On February 17th, an education bill was passed by the Oklahoma State House of Representatives Education Committee to “defund the current Advanced Placement U.S. History course framework and replace it with a curriculum deemed more pro-American.” Since then the bill has inspired national debate over the development of patriotism in America’s youth.
The optional high school course is a chance for many students to receive college credit, saving them both time and money. Nevertheless, only 500,000 actually take the class and one out of eight of those will earn a high enough score to receive the credit from their post-secondary institution.
On Friday, July 10th, Hillsdale College hosted Wilfred M. McClay, a professor of History at the University of Oklahoma, at the Allan P. Kirby Center to provide insight on the subject.
“The study of history is different than any other academic subject, particularly at the high school level. It’s not merely about knowledge. It ushers the individual out of a narrow circle, which is his or her immediate environment, and into a relationship with the common world,” the passionate teacher professed, and in so doing, “democracy needs a patriotic education.”
McClay went on to explain that the unrevised course does not provide the necessary contextualization that connects our youth to the foundations of the country.
“But neither does an approach of post-nationalism triumphalism which belittles the American history to a sum of past injustices and oppression,” he states, adding that “both of these caricatures fail. They have failed to do what we expect our history to do.”
The John’s Hopkins graduate clarifies that nationalism has become taboo in classrooms. “History has been a victim to the age of radicals, but it could also be the antidote,” McClay concludes, “If we are willing to let it be…”
Judy Russell is a journalism intern with the American Journalism Center.