I know how frustrating it is when people do what I'm about to do. I remember it being the summer before my freshman year of college that the movie Air Force One starring Harrison Ford came out. I loved it. It's one of the few movies that I watched in the theater more than once. I was excited when it came out for home rental to watch it with my family. Big mistake.
My dad was an Air Force pilot for a couple decades. Among other aircraft, he spent the majority of his career flying KC-135 refueling planes. So, when the epic scene of the mid-air refueling of Air Force One happened during the movie – a scene that climaxes with a fire traveling up the re-fueling boom, igniting the tanks, and obliterating the KC-10 in a massive fireball – my dad lost it. We all were treated to a 10-minute lecture on how absurd the scenario was: there's a boom operator on the KC-10 that would have lifted the boom and cut the fuel supply well before Air Force One pulled away, the design of the fuel flow apparatus would have made it virtually impossible for any ignition to have reversed up the boom anyway, so on and so forth.
No one likes hearing "ACKSHULLY" from self-proclaimed experts. Trust me, I get it.
But when I saw this demand from Atlantic writer and self-announced curriculum expert Tim Alberta, I knew I couldn't avoid pulling rank myself:
The thing is, I think he's serious. If it wasn't so overdone, I'd be tempted to quote tweet this as one of those, "Tell me you've never been a high school history teacher without telling me you've never been a high school history teacher."
I understand Tim is very exercised about the events of 1/6 and wants every public school student to be as outraged as him. If they were, I'm assuming he believes it would save our republic. All you have to do, however, is simply read many of the replies to this bold recommendation to realize why it's far more about Tim making a political statement than it is a serious, workable plan.
For every Tim Alberta who demands these curriculum points be etched in stone, there are 2 others who dispute his "facts."
Though most Americans regard the events of 1/6 to be disgraceful, few outside leftist Twitter and mainstream media jackals still give it much thought or consider it to have been some earth-shattering moment in American history. If Alberta's proposal that we set aside a day in U.S. History class to teach about the Great MAGA Coup Attempt is reasonable, where do we draw the line?
We already have designated days where we step away from the already-breakneck pacing associated with trying to cover all of American history in two short, interruption-plagued semesters, and cover Constitution Day, September 11th, Veterans' Day, and Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream."
Should there be a designated day where we teach all kids about the Battle for Fallujah? Or the raid that killed Osama bin Laden? Or the Biden withdrawal and Taliban takeover of Afghanistan? Should we spend a day dedicated to the Selma March? A day for the tragedy at Wounded Knee or the Trail of Tears? Pearl Harbor has to take a day, right? And D-Day or Hiroshima? What about the Challenger explosion – a day for that too? What about the national security nightmare associated with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's email server?
Mr. Alberta may find the events of 1/6 more significant than each of those given that he absurdly places them on the same footing as the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, but surely others would disagree. Surely some veterans of Selma would say that what happened to them had far more impact on the shaping of America's destiny than the riot on 1/6/21. In fact, survivors of other riots – like the Homestead strike, Chicago race riots, Zoot-Suit riots, Rodney King riots, the Black Lives Matter riots – might say theirs were far deadlier and more historic. So who gets to make that call?
As a U.S. history teacher in a public high school for 2 decades, let me just say that we have about 180 school days to work with. Factor in every fire drill, bullying convocation, homecoming parade, standardized testing week, fog delay, technology malfunction, athletic pep session, and now COVID quarantine, or eLearning days, and you quickly whittle that number way down. Assuming you have some sort of test or assessment for the units you teach or eras you cover, you're subtracting another 10-15 days, plus semester finals.
With the days remaining, you're required to give "adequate attention" to every significant moment in at least 245 years of American history. So please understand why as someone actually in a classroom every day, I look at 2-bit posturing posts like Tim's "teach every child these things" tweet, and on behalf of history teachers everywhere, give it a well-deserved:
P.S. Now treat yourself to our viral video "How to speak Bidenese" 😁👇