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philosopher's avatar

Do you think that teachers should know basic History and Science?

Asked by philosopher (9165points) October 20th, 2011

I am very concerned that too many so called educated American’s do not know American History and simple Scientific concepts.
I make typos but I know History. I understand how Cells work, how the Metabolism works, Basic Genetics concepts and Earth Science; and more.
Today I was speaking with a teacher and I refereed to the Hay Market Riots. She did not know what they are. Do you?
I believe American’s and the world can learn how to avoid problems by learning History.

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49 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

You can’t expect everyone to have impeccable memory. I just looked up the Haymarket riot, and yeah, that seems significant, but I’m not going to remember it next week. There’s other things I care about at the moment.

I’ve read a lot of stuff that was very useful concerning history, science, etc, but I don’t remember everything I read. Maybe it turned into tacit knowledge, or maybe I really don’t remember it anymore, but I still know how to avoid problems.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I believe all citizens of a country should have a good understanding of their country’s history and world history. Science is just as important.

But then, I have 2 liberal arts degrees, so I would say that.

wonderingwhy's avatar

Sure, but I’m more concerned that they have a depth of knowledge in the subject(s) they teach. I’d like to make certain they can answer the questions their students have first and be secure in the idea that they are providing a genuinely well rounded view of their subject(s) and are preparing their students for the next level. Instilling a structure of using reason to solve problems within the subject(s) would be nice too rather than just promoting facts and memorization.

I do think it would be good for teachers to have broader knowledge and thus be able to cross-pollinate better, thereby reinforcing things students are learning in other classes. I don’t see how that could be bad.

philosopher's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake
She is a teacher. She should know History and basic Science.
Everyone is required to take many Liberal Arts classes.
The Hay Market Riots are fundamental American History. They paved the way for Unions.

philosopher's avatar

@wonderingwhy
I love Science and History. Knowing the basics makes someone more productive. We don’t need to be experts at everything but we should comprehend the basics. That is why we must take Liberal Arts classes in college.

Mariah's avatar

Everybody should know basic history and science. But unless they’re history or science teachers, I don’t think teachers have any more responsibility than the general population to know those things.

philosopher's avatar

@Blackberry
I can forgive you because your not teaching. I still think you should know History and Science. When you vote understanding such things helps you to be more informed.
People who vote against Unions support the Minority and the Elitist. People who do not comprehend basic Science often vote against funding research.

philosopher's avatar

@Mariah
An educated person should know the basics.
Teachers are suppose to be better informed than most. Sadly they often are very limited people.
They memorize well but can not teach others. They lack basic knowledge about subject matter other than their Major.
I prefer to learn from well rounded people. They are more interesting people. They are better motivators.

Blackberry's avatar

@philosopher I agree, but what is “knowing”? How much should people know before it’s acceptable?

philosopher's avatar

@Blackberry
They should know how America came to be and why. They should know how our bodies work.
They should do as you did if they do not know. Google works well.
My Hair Dresser recently blew me away because she couldn’t really comprehend Mitosis. She believes the US Government is hiding a cure for Cancer. There will not be one cure. A lack of understanding breeds this type of pure stupidity.
My Dermatologist is also a researcher and he has Cancer. He said, if there was a cure I would have it.
Do you think Steven Jobs would have gotten the cure?
I can not tolerant when people do not look for the documentation. That is how rumors start and why Politicians are allowed to control some through rhetoric BS.
I think you can understand this. You looked for the facts.

Blackberry's avatar

@philosopher I agree, knowing some basic key things are very important.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Never heard of the Hay Market Riot. I am a teacher. I am also a student so here shortly I will have learned of the Hay Maker Riot.
Have you ever heard of Lemuria?

Red pen…”...educated American’s”… no apostrophe in this case. An apostrophe shows a possessive…that the subject posses some thing, be it a skill, a book, an attitude, whatever. An apostrophe would be correct if you were saying something like, “America’s natural resources include Fluther.” Or something. : ) And watch someone come along and correct that-there sentence of mine!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wait! In reading the Wiki, I have heard of the Hay Maker Riot. The memory just got lost in all the astronomy and biology and geology and misc. science knowledge that I have because I really like that stuff! And math.

martianspringtime's avatar

Should they? Sure. But should they be required to? Unless they’re teaching that subject, I don’t think so. Just because you’re a teacher doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from your students. I guess to a certain extent they should be knowledgeable about a variety of subjects, but to what extent, I’m not sure we could really define.

If it were required to know basic science, I’d definitely have to reevaluate any ambition to be a teacher (not that I aspire to be one) because I just can’t seem to retain any of that information.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Every teacher has had every class, learned everything you learned in HS, and then some, because every teacher has, at the least a Bachelor’s degree. I would hazard to guess that every teacher knows something you don’t know.

philosopher's avatar

@Dutchess_III
Every human is better at somethings than others. No one excels at everything
A good teacher has a gift that education and training alone can not produce.
I believe however that educators should know basic Science and History.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I wouldn’t consider the Haymarket riot to be “basic” history. I would consider it to be intermediate American history. Basic history is usually Western Civ 1&2, or World History 1&2. I’d totally expect an American history teacher to know them, but a biology teacher who only had to take one or two history classes to round out their core education? No. Nor would I expect a medieval historian, or a Russian historian, or a historian who didn’t at all specialize in American, 19th century, or labor conditions history to know the Haymarket riot. The “fall” of Rome, the Crusades, the Protestant Reformation, the American Revolution, the Scientific Revolution, Hammurabi’s code – these things are basic history. This one event in one city? Not so much. It’s not even like the Haymarket affair is really even considered big enough that you would fail an American history class by not knowing of it. Get marked down a couple points, sure, but not fail.

Nullo's avatar

The Haymarket Riots are kind of on the obscure side, actually. They may be near and dear to you, but to everybody else it’s just one more case of people being violent. Do you realize how often that has happened?

philosopher's avatar

@Aethelflaed
I try to be aware of most of what is going on in the US and the world. My education included learning about how our nation came about and became they way it is.
I learned History in school and from my father.When I was young my teachers were surprised about how much I new about current affairs. My parents always explained things to me. They believed that being well rounded was important. I agree with this Philosophy.
I did a paper on the Hay Market Riot in college. It happen because working people were pushed too far and the Police did not handle the situation well.
People should be aware of what lead up to these conditions.
I hate violence. I am concerned about the Occupy Wall Street Protest. I agree with many of their beliefs but think among them are Anarchist, Communist and violent people.
All citizens of the US should know enough about our History,Current Events and Science to make accurate decisions when they vote. Teachers should No more not less. They have great influence on our children and our future.
I find it sickening when people don’t know the facts about Scientific concepts or History. The failure of American’s to understand available documentation has hurt America. If people evaluated things on a more factual basis the clowns in Congress would be voted out. Unformed people fall for rhetoric, lies and catchy slogans.

Nullo's avatar

@philosopher Well, I find it sickening when people can’t punctuate properly.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@philosopher Just curious…why are you so stuck on basic “history and science.”? Why not basic math and English as well? You, especially, need some really basic English education:

“Teachers should No more not less.” Seriously?

“Unformed people…” are you saying even fetuses should know basic history and science?

“Science,” “History,” “Philosophy,” “Current Events,” “Hair Dresser,”“Dermatologist,” “Mitosis,” “Cancer,” “Cells,” “Metabolism,”“Earth Science,” and “Basic Genetics” are not proper nouns. They don’t need to be capitalized.

”...because your not teaching…” This is a contraction of “You are.” It should have been written “you’re.”

I can not find one single post in which you don’t make some basic, elementary English error. After reading what you write, and how you write, no amount of hollering that you know about the Hay Market Riots is going to convince us of your intelligence. You just sound like a hypocrite.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@philosopher Look, I’d love to have more of a focus on history in schools (as most history majors do…). I hate that every time American history comes up, they basically repeat everything from the last grade with American history, because they don’t feel they can assume that kids actually know the stuff from that grade, so they never get to go into any depth. My point was rather that you seem to be using the Haymarket affair as some kind of litmus test as to if someone knows any history, when it’s really a horrible litmus test. You might see it as a big event (and I’m not trying to say that you’re wrong), but if the historiography of the Haymarket affair is that it’s considered an more minor event then it’s not fair to use it to dismiss people. And I’m not so sure we should be changing it to be a bigger event – I’d sort of rather we focus on creating depth in the bigger events/eras (like maybe mentioning the existence and impact of the Jim Crow laws, or look at the Reconstruction era..?), or go outside American history and have kids learn about events outside of American history (like maybe they could learn about the Iranian Revolution?).
Also, the way to get people to learn about history is not to shame and shun them when they don’t know what you know, it’s to acknowledge that it can be a rather disjointed field, and say “Oh, ok, so let me tell you about it”.

philosopher's avatar

@Aethelflaed
My fair is that History will repeat itself if, people do not know what happen.
We should know not to placate Terrorist. It did not work with Hitler. We should not dismiss peaceful protest. They can become violent if, No one pays attention to people that are truly hurting.
We should exam documentation about things before casting a vote on the issue. We should not vote based on the Political rhetoric BS.
People too often vote along party lines and never do any research. Some are not capable of research and some are too lazy,
If I go into too much detail a minority will see my words as an attack.
I hope our society will through education learn to turn to Science for objective answers and solutions. That does not mean people should not practice their religion. Only that No one small Minority of any religion should rule America,

Aethelflaed's avatar

@philosopher Ok, I don’t know that I ever said we shouldn’t look at history to learn from it, or that I was against the protests, or… I just don’t know why you’re bring this all up. However, if you want to craft a message about peaceful protests and unprovoked police brutality then a) maybe use some more recent examples (there are tons in the 1960s and 70s) so that people can’t dismiss it so easily as a totally different culture and b) if Haymarket was the only example of police brutality against peaceful protest, you wouldn’t have much of an arguement for the protests. And if you’re so against political rhetoric, maybe you should stop using it yourself.

philosopher's avatar

@Aethelflaed
My friend recently bought up the four people killed in Ohio in the seventies. I was very young but I remember. Too many people can only relate to what they personally experience.
I think we should all learn from others as well.
My intension was not Political. I am disgusted with both parties.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@philosopher You don’t have to align yourself with a party to have political ideas and motivations.

Nullo's avatar

The fact of the matter is that there are lots and lots and lots of things to know. There is so much information that we no longer try to learn it all, and instead pick a category and specialize. As the volume of knowable things increases, the more necessary it will become to narrow our focus, and the more general our knowledge of other things will have to become. A sharp person can, with practice, infer enough from those generalities to manage.

philosopher's avatar

@Aethelflaed
My motivation is what is best for American’s and Middle Class hard working people.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@philosopher And that’s a political motivation. I don’t see anything wrong with political motivations, I don’t see anything wrong with rhetoric, but rather that absolutely everyone has political motivations and employs rhetoric.

Dutchess_III's avatar

‘Americans’ should not have an apostrophe in it!!!! I quit!

Nullo's avatar

@Aethelflaed I’ve often wondered if we couldn’t dial back racial tensions in the US by not emphasizing slavery and segregation quite so much, thereby not creating a white vs. black mentality. Or maybe my high school curriculum poured on the Jim Crow rather more thickly than other curricula.

Bellatrix's avatar

I think it is important to have a well thought out curriculum that teachers follow so there is some consistency in the standard and content being covered in the classroom. This has been lacking in Australia until recently and it was very difficult for students to move from one state to another without being disadvantaged.

However, rather than giving teachers a long, prescriptive list of specific things they_ must_ teach children, I would prefer my children’s teachers encourage them to question and analyse information. I want my children to be curious about the world and how and why things have and do happen and work. I want the teachers they work with to equip them with a love of learning and the skills to be able to go and find information themselves. If our children leave school with a love of learning, a questioning mind and the skills to find answers to those questions and to evaluate sources of information, we will be doing very well.

Ron_C's avatar

I think that a teacher should have an in-depth knowledge of his or her subject and a general knowledge of history, language, and the sciences. The Haymaker riot is pretty specific. Now if you were discussing WW2 and the teacher didn’t know who was on our side, that might be an indication of a real problem.

A child of one of our friends had an English teacher that couldn’t write a coherent note to his parents; now that’s a real problem.

philosopher's avatar

@Ron_C
Remember all those History classes, Science classes and other Liberal Arts class we were forced to take. That was so we would all have basic knowledge of most things. Too bad there were No common sense classes or classes that teach people objectivity, rational thinking and the importance of evaluating things on your own.
I think everyone should have a general knowledge of most subjects. Especially teachers.
Thank you for your sensible answer.

Nullo's avatar

@philosopher They teach critical thinking in most English classes. They teach logic in math classes. You can’t have a common-sense class because ‘common sense’ is the ruminated sum of your experiences to date, and as such is not really teachable.

The importance of objectivity is, of course, subjective.

Ron_C's avatar

@philosopher I remember that I had to take “Pennsylvania History”. Our state has a wide and varied history and it could have been extremely interesting but these text books filtered it all down to dates and names. I considered it child abuse to force kids into a stuffy classroom to memorize dates.

I read a couple history books after high school and found them extremely interesting and have wondered why those books weren’t taught instead of the dry boring things that are forced on kids.

Of course I was thrown out of Latin class because of philosophical differences with the teacher. Too bad, Latin in much more fun my way.

philosopher's avatar

@Ron_C
Teaching is a gift and I think some people are born with the gift.
I remember my first History class in college. The Professor described things so well I could see them. He was a low grader and people disliked him.
He called on people in class and asked questions. I kept giving the correct answer and he liked me. He was a strange man but good teacher. He was never boring.

Ron_C's avatar

“Teaching is a gift ” that is why I get upset when the ultra-right balance their budges buy getting rid of teachers. A good teacher should be paid more than an executive in Koch industries. They do more for children and society and their job is harder than any of those executives that fly around in their private planes.

philosopher's avatar

@Ron_C
The wealthy like Christie pay more for private school educations for their children than some people make in a year. They wish to keep the Middle Class down. They fear that we are actually smarter than them. I don’t know where Christie’s wealth came from. I do know that most of these wealthy people that go to the best schools are not smarter than my family. Many are not as smart.
The pig Christie said, the reporters had no right to ask where his children went to school. He has laid off teachers, police and fireman. Like the immoral Bush he will cut the Taxes of the rich and squeeze the Middle Class out of existence. Their cuts hurt special needs people and the elderly. They are truly loathsome immoral people.
In the school in NJ my son graduated from I met some of best most dedicated teachers I ever new. NYC Public schools have No one in their league. They do not have the training and few have the compassion.

Nullo's avatar

@philosopher “The wealthy like Christie pay more for private school educations for their children than some people make in a year” does not support “They wish to keep the Middle Class down.”
Just sayin’.

Ron_C's avatar

@Nullo I think the two statements do support each other. My state, Pennsylvania is trying to push through a voucher program in which funds are extracted from public school fund to support tuition in private schools. No the wealthy not only get better education (or religious based education), they get a tuition break paid by the loss to public school students. I cannot see any reason to ever vote for a conservative again. They are more concerned about feathering their nests than the effect on their constituents. We have finally seen how mean and miserable the neo-cons can be. Money for unjust wars, private prisons, police state tactics, and private schools. We are now in Nazi America.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Ron_C, the voucher proposal in Pennsylvania is for low-income students.

Ron_C's avatar

@bkcunningham that is just a foothold into the system. I guarantee that the system will expand until public schools are starved to death. I am not against private schools, I taught in one and support them. I highly object to my tax money supporting them. That is a private decision. If we work for a state wide quality public education system, vouchers are not necessary or desirable.

bkcunningham's avatar

Some people object to their tax dollars going to schools that don’t teach their children and are rampant with violence. I’m all for School Choice. It is a very controversial subject and one that has been around in the US since 1869.

Ron_C's avatar

@bkcunningham I’m all for school choice as long as it is within the public school system. Parents need to be held responsible for the deterioration of a school, not the teachers. From my experience, the only reason private schools often have a better success rate than public schools is that first they get to choose their students and secondly, they insist that parents become involved.

Nullo's avatar

@Ron_C There’s plenty of controversial stuff taught in the public schools, stuff that a private school might approach differently (sex ed, for instance; I was fortunate to have a health class in public high school that was fairly neutral in its treatment of the subject, others are not so fortunate) – in a manner more to the liking of the parents. A public school can’t do that. Surely you can see the value of offering such variety.

Let’s assume that your assessment of the private schools’ quality control is accurate. How would you go about improving the public education system? The public school obviously can’t choose its students, so that’s out. How do you propose to force more parents to be involved when you have no leverage?
Kudos for not seizing on money as the problem. A lot of people fail to realize that a very good education can be had without state-of-the-rat computer labs.

Ron_C's avatar

@Nullo How would I improve public education? Well first of all I would get rid of needless testing programs, second I would work to get parents more involved, possibly by having a professional position to contact and follow up with parents whose children are having problems. I would reduce the course load to the basics, language, history, maths, science, physical fitness. I would get rid of “self esteem programs” and sex education. I would support more teachers, fewer administrators. I would make parents responsible for their children’s discipline and protect teachers that are forced to physically restrain unruly students. I would also be more careful about the students that are “mainstreamed”. I fully support helping physcally handicapped students participating in classes as much as possible but would not go overboard on forcing students with severe mental or behavioral problems attending classes because they take time away from regular students.

Further, I would prevent all religious observance in schools except as part of a cultural and historical class. Religion is highly disruptive. I would also insist that uniforms should be mandatory at all grade levels. Schools are not the place to show off the latest fashions.

I would also enforce an honor code with the possibility for a student to be transferred to schools with strong discipline for the unruly.

Nullo's avatar

@Ron_C Interesting, and surprisingly not too divergent from what I’d label as acceptable.
Though you didn’t really answer the question about parental involvement – “I would work to get parents more involved” doesn’t really go into any kind of working particulars. A person who cannot be bothered to take an interest in the first place does not strike me as the sort to become any more involved because a district employee harasses him on the phone now and then.

And, of course, I worry about your stance on “religious observance.” Would this mean banning all religiously-related holidays? Talk about a tough sell! Preventing students from exercising their faith at school (i.e. organized/unorganized prayer, study groups, casual conversation, etc.) even if independent of any actual faculty involvement? Would the kids be forbidden from ever performing, oh, about half of what classical music has for the world? Would a Lit/Comp paper centered around faith, churches, or significance of fixed liturgies receive a failing grade?
In all my years as a student, I have never seen any trouble arise in school from religion. Fashion yes, and who is sleeping with whom, yes, and any number of interpersonal issues. But the most trouble we ever got from religion was when kids would take a Gideon New Testament and litter with it. Granted, I went to school in Mayberry, but I still don’t see it being much of an issue. Unless you’re going to be Protestant in a parochial school, but that’s just asking for trouble.

An atheist once described atheism to me as “like monotheism, but with fewer gods.” That, and other, less-pithy observations, showed me that atheism is a religion in its own right, rather than the absence of one. It has its temples, its priests, its evangelists, its congregations, and even a core doctrine.
It is a religion without a god, but a religion all the same.

Ron_C's avatar

@Nullo parental involvement—Insist that the parent or a competent representative participate in teacher conferences. If not, issue a ticket, too many tickets and you have weekly visits from social workers. I’ve had a social worker visit and would do almost anything to avoid the bother. Of course you could use the money you save by having fewer people in the prison system to visit homes of un-involved parents.

Religion in school—I would have no problem with comparative religious courses in a Social Study program and of course private conversations have no bearing and should never be monitored. The same applies to music. I don’t care if good music was originally commissioned by some Pope or Bishop with money anymore than I would care if it was commissioned by a Wiccan. That is just an incident in history and would not preclude its being played in school as part of a secular concert. I wouldn’t even care if there was a Christmas concert or a concert of Middle Eastern religious music although I would say that I find most of it annoying but some of the new music coming out of Muslim countries is pretty good (at least in my opinion).

Atheism and other philosophies like Humanism have nothing to do with religion. There is no dogma and no system of mythical beliefs. If you state your belief to an atheist, you better have the facts to back it up because “god did it” is an excuse, not a reason. Now that I think of it atheism is not even a philosophy, it is simply a lack of belief in unsupported ideas. Not much of a religion.

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