Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

History is more or less bunk. It is tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that’s worth a tinker’s dam is the history we make today.

In 1916, as the U.S. was gearing up to enter World War I, Henry Ford, who had applied new technologies to mass manufacturing of  cars while earning profits for his company, said  those words. He wanted the kind of history that would speak to the present, not those school-taught accounts of kings, queens, generals, and diplomacy students learned. To Ford, that kind of history was “”more or less bunk.” He wanted a different history that was relevant to the here-and-now, that could answer tough questions today (p. 1).

Today, political, military, social, economic, and education historians gather, analyze, and interpret facts to answer questions about the past as objectively as they can. The past, then, never speaks for itself…

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