Sunday, 2 January 2011

When History isn't History

We have a big mess brewing up in my home state of Virigina....over high school history books.

Some folks sat down and examined two history books being used....and found a fair amount of errors (the number of states in the Confederacy, the year that WW I started, etc).  There's talk now that review process needs to occur, and all of these 'problems' need to be put out and identified.  Naturally, this would mean that adults would have to read high school history books and determine the facts.

My interest in this...is from the production side.  Here is some company that shall remain unnamed.....who spent probably around $500k to hire up a couple of history professors and a grammar queen to check their structure and spelling.  The professors probably didn't want to really do the work....so they brought in some punks in the second or third year of their degree program.....and gave them tasks to write various sections of the book.  I'm guessing that Larry, Barney, and Skippy put some effort into the first chapter.....and then got bogged down with wine, women, and song.....and lost their focus.  The professor probably never checked their facts.....and it all got published rather quickly without any oversight.

I don't want to burst anyone's bubble....but you could probably find a Alabama history book from 1969 and it's probably just as good or accurate as anything written in the past three decades.  Instead of paying the professors to create something.....I'd just reuse most of the Bama history book of 1969, and add one more chapter onto the end to explain the last forty years (most of which is not worth speaking on anyway).

What happens now?  A bunch of folks will come to note the issues and demand an entirely new history book (with fresh problems). Toss in ten million for the purchase of books to fix problem one, and to create problem two.

As for Larry, Barney, and Skippy?  The boys who wrote the incorrect facts?  Well.....they graduated from college and probably now work for the US government in some fashion.  Hopefully, the government doesn't test the three for historical facts.....otherwise, they might discover that they really don't know much.  And this would bring up the question of who taught them in the first place.

So tonight as you sit by the fireplace and wonder about life in America....rest assured, we are pursuing the best history books possible for our kids.  But it just might not be factual history.  And if you eventually learn that Babe Ruth was in World War II.....storming islands in the Pacific as a US Marine....maybe it's not a bad history.