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Since this thread is still going, a brief summary of how I recall history being taught in school, lo those many years ago.
First couple of grades—Columbus, Pilgrims, Squanto, First Thanksgiving, basically every year. Make a handprint turkey. (Don’t expect much, we’re very young and our turkeys are wobbly.)
Fourth grade — A little state history added in. I was in Arizona at this point, so we read “Annie and the Old One” and learned that the Navajo wove and the Hopi made pots. Mr. Aguirre was fighting an uphill battle with our attention spans.
Fifth grade - We are now old enough for the Revolutionary War! Boston Tea Party, taxation without representation, the Declaration of Independence. Then there’s a war, which we are informed the British lost because they wore red and were easy to shoot.
We memorize part of Paul Revere’s Ride, read Johnny Tremain, and watch a bootleg copy of “Ben and Me” with the talking mouse while Mrs. Kiester tried to grade papers. Quartering is discussed at surprising length, which is amusing because it will not come up again until 2020.
State history continues. We sing the state song and learn about Pueblos and the Lost Dutchman mine. In gifted class once a week, we take a field trip to Casa Grande and learn about cliff dwellings. We eventually get a big field trip to Mesa Verde.
We learn the names of the three vanished tribes in Arizona, the Anasazi, Hohokam and Mugollon. We do not learn the names of any living tribes, and so assume that the Navajo and the Hopi are the only ones. We sing the state song some more.
Sixth grade! Western expansion. Lewis & Clark, but not any of the interesting bits, like mercury pills and Jefferson hoping for a mammoth, or the awful bits, like what Sacajawea went through. Then the Gold Rush. State history involves Tombstone and ghost towns.
7th grade, the beginning of either middle school or junior high, depending on state. I have moved back to Arizona. There is no history class, just Geography. We learn the names of countries and attempt to place them on a map.
We have a vague understanding from the cultural gestalt that the Middle East is Bad, so we giggle nervously about it, except for Yemen and Oman, which we haven’t heard of. At this point, a lot of us are more worried we will get our period in class than anything else.
Sorry, I moved back to Oregon, FROM Arizona. (Probably need to go back to Geography class...)
Eighth grade - History class is back. We rehash everything from Columbus on. Now at last we learn that we were maybe kinda crappy to the natives? We learn about the French-Indian War, which we are told is over the fur trade. Then the Revolutionary War, in a bit more detail.
At no point do we learn the Founding Fathers were slave owners. We do finally learn about the slave trade, several units later, with the Middle Passage. Several white girls cry. There are no black students because Salem Oregon has all the melanin of David Bowie, without the hair.
We watch Glory and are comfortably assured that Oregon was on the right side of history. This concludes the Civil War, which after all happened very far away on the East Coast. Reconstruction happens. Our vocabulary words include “carpetbagger.”
We go directly to World War I, as nothing of significance to America happened in the interim. (*insert horrified rising laughter here*) The war is because someone shot Archduke Ferdinand. We learn about trench warfare and do word searches for trenchfoot, mustard gas & Lusitania.
We watch ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT while our teacher frantically grades papers. The war ends because America saved Europe. We spend a day on the Roaring Twenties, learn about flappers and Prohibition, and skip to World War II.
Hitler was bad. The Holocaust was bad. We read a highly abridged chunk of the Diary of Anne Frank. More girls cry. Our teachers asks what we’d do if the Nazis were taking our neighbors. We all vow to resist. The one Jewish student visibly wishes to sink into the floor.
Fortunately for our teacher, the Auschwitz miniseries is running. He tells us all to watch it for extra credit and skips the rest of the bit, though “concentration camp” is still on the wordsearch. The war ends because of D-Day.
We move to the Pacific theater, which causes confusion because we kinda thought we joined the war because of the Holocaust, but no, it was actually Pearl Harbor. We do not learn about Japanese internment camps. The atomic bomb ends the war. Nagasaki & Hiroshima on the wordsearch.
Our eighth grade teacher, by now looking as if he had run a marathon in bad shoes, sacrifices the rest of history to the IOWA tests, as History is the most expendable of the required classes.

We have three classes—World History, US History, and European History, which is not required. You can take advanced versions of the first two, but European History is considered advanced anyway.
World History. Mesopotamia. Fertile Crescent, where civilization started. Then Egypt built pyramids, which led directly to Ancient Greece. We have a debate where one side has Athens and one side has Sparta and we argue who contributed more. I represent Athens. I win.
India exists. “Caste system” is on the vocabulary test. We no longer have word searches*. In order to demonstrate that caste systems are bad, our teacher randomly assigns us all a caste and only Brahmins get chairs for that day. Someone end up crying.
*except in health class, which is taught by the PE teacher. Also Sex Ed. My ability to find “vas deferens” on a wordsearch turns out to have remarkably little bearing on my future sex life.
World History spends a day on China. Vocabulary words are “yellow river” and “oracle bones.” The most critical thing about China, we learn, is a method of prophecy involving interpreting the cracks in ox bones. They also invent gunpowder but only for fireworks.
We go back to Europe. Ancient Rome gets a week or two, mostly learning the Roman versions of the names of Greek gods. Alexander the Great appears and fights Persia. Macedonia is a vocabulary word. We do not learn anything else about where he went, because the semester ends.
It’s time for US History! Which is taught by the basketball coach, because he always liked history. We start back up at
Columbus. We will never learn about what he did to people. We do finally get Cortez. Cortez won because he had horses and the natives were scared of horses.
We learn about the Fountain of Youth. De Soto discovered the Mississippi. The picture in the history book has de Soto on a white horse overlooking the river, with smiling, awestruck natives. I will be thirty-five before I learn the truth.
We go back to the various colonists, who we now learn were fleeing religious persecution in Europe. About this time, my literature class does a whole section on The Crucible, so we learn about the Salem Witch Trials From her.
The French-Indian Wars were still about fur trappers, but now we learn that France actually helped the American colonists. We rehash the American Revolution yet again, but do not have to memorize any poetry. We learn about the slave trade, yet again.
No one cries this time. Several kids do earnest presentations on whether slavery was maybe good for black people. Most of us are pretty sure that’s not okay. There is some crying. The teacher shrugs. The one black kid in this class does not do a presentation.
Texas now exists, thanks to the Battle of the Alamo. Vocabulary includes Santa Anna and Bowie knife. We get a vague impression that Mexico is trying to invade Texas, so Texas joins the colonies for protection. The Monroe Doctrine is on the test.
It will be some decades and an actual visit to the Alamo during a book tour before I realize that we did not win at the Alamo.
Lewis & Clark are back. It’s basketball season, so our teacher cares less. We are told to pick a book set in the time frame and do a book report. I pick one called SACAJAWEA. It turns out to be a fictionalized version with a LOT of graphic sex. I leave that out of the report.
We spend five minutes on the War of 1812. I will not learn about the White House burning down until a Canadian friend gives me shit over it.
Manifest destiny, the continental railroad, and San Francisco are all run through quickly before we get back to the Civil War. We are now taught that the Civil War is because of economic tensions between agrarian south and industrial north.
Also slavery, which is bad, but some of the slave owners were probably very nice and treated them like family. Harriet Tubman was very good. We like her. Then Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin and started the war.
(There is more about Uncle Tom’s Cabin than there is about the Philippines, for those who came in at the start of this thread.)
The Civil War goes badly until Sherman marches through Georgia, which was considered a bit excessive. Dysentery is a vocabulary word. We watch Glory again while the teacher contemplates basketball.
After the Civil War, we put the Indians on reservations because their treaties said they’d go. We learn the names of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and a few others, but Chief Joseph is the only one who gets any detail, with his “I will fight no more forever speech.”
Somewhere around here, our basketball team made the state finals and our teacher was replaced by a substitute, who interestingly enough was the mom of a friend of mine in first grade. She told everyone I was very sweet and loved stuffed animals. I was an anarchopagan at the time.
Despite this blow to my street cred, she did a good job covering that we were really kinda shitty about the reservations and told us about smallpox blankets and the Trail of Tears. Having already watched Dances With Wolves at this point, many of us went and bought dreamcatchers.
The Spanish-American war happened so that Roosevelt’s rough riders could take a hill and make him president. This hill was in Cuba, but we don’t talk about Cuba because communism is bad. Somebody sank the Maine.
We spent a lengthy period on bootlegging and Prohibition. World War I happened, pretty much the same way as last time, then the Great Depression. A couple of Roosevelts were president. Bull moose party. We read excerpts from The Grapes of Wrath.
Vocabulary included the Dust Bowl and the League of Nations. Our teacher really just wanted to get to World War 2, which started at Pearl Harbor this time, because Hitler. The Americans beat Hitler on D-Day, yay! Then Hiroshima.
Probably because we were all growing up in the Cold War and had watched War Games eleven hundred times, we were not happy about the bomb. Our teacher was surprised by this because it meant the war ended quicker. We remained unconvinced.
Then it was civil rights, Martin Luther King, and separate but equal. We learned that MLK was totally committed to nonviolence and Rosa Parks sat because her feet hurt. (We also covered this on MLK day from about third grade on and read the I have a dream speech.)
School integration happened, but after the first black students came in with the National Guard, that was the end of it, as far as the class was concerned, because it was the end of the semester. Korea, Vietnam, and anything else were someone else’s problem.
European History was basically Holy Roman Empire, the Magna Carta, witch hunts, the Renaissance. Our teacher grimly informed us that when we wrote the paper on the cause of the witch trials, the existence of witches was not an acceptable reason.
The Renaissance was followed immediately by the French Revolution, which lasted for a great deal of time. As she was also the literature teacher, we composed beat poetry about Robespierre. Napoleon happened, unhappened, happened again. The semester ended. I graduated.
This was what a reasonably intelligent product of the American public school system hit the ground running witch, circa 1994. Most of us don’t go to college, and history is rarely a required class for a non-major,

So, uh, yeah. That’s kinda why we’re like this.
I meant to type “hit the ground running with” but I was still an angry young pagan at the time, so y’know...
Oh! Caveat! We did cover Japanese internment finally in high school. It was considered Bad.
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