Dicta

The home of “things said” by the National Association of Scholars.

Slavery Did Not Make America Rich

Deirdre Nansen McCloskey

We should stop using the history of slavery for present-day politics against capitalism.

Western Civilization

NAS

A citizen's guide on the necessity of studying Western Civilization.

Conjuring Pushkin

Peter Wood

A review of playwright Jonathan Leaf's and director Christopher McElroen's play Pushkin.

An Open Letter in Support of a Besieged Academic

NAS

Rachel Fulton Brown seems unusually friendless as she defends against derisive epithets from colleagues and hecklers. NAS is calling for academics and their institutions to sign this letter in her support.

Righteous Witness

John E. Staddon

John Staddon writes about Duke University and the new religion.

An Open Letter to the College Board on AP: World History

Peter Wood

NAS President Peter Wood writes to the College Board to propose reforms to the revised AP: World History exam. 

Teaching History for Liberty

David Randall

The text of a recent speech given at Case Western Reserve University by NAS's Director of Research.

The Campaign to Reform the College Board, Continued

NAS

Peter Wood and David Randall continue the campaign to reform the AP European History examination.

College Board Improves European History Course--But Not Enough: Churchill In, Columbus Still Out

NAS

PRESS RELEASE: NAS assesses the College Board's response to our critique of their Advanced Placement European History Examination.

Churchill In, Columbus Still Out: A Half-Loaf from the College Board

David Randall

The College Board makes a superficial response to NAS' critique of their AP European history standards.

We Need a Radio Free America on Campus

Peter Wood

It has become critical that we build and maintain bastions of free thought on college campuses. 

A Monumental Mistake

Dion J. Pierre

When it comes to de-commemoration, lines must be drawn.

Federalist Universities

Rachelle Peterson

To what extent is the university a microcosm of the political party system?

Crime in America

David Randall

NAS board member Barry Latzer discusses his new book The Rise and Fall of Violent Crime in America.

The Disappearing Continent: A Critique of the Revised AP European History Examination

David Randall

The 2015 AP European History exam warps and guts the history of Europe.

Re-re-re-revising American History

Peter Wood

NAS president Peter Wood evaluates APUSH 2.0 and considers the possibility of greater improvements. 

Book Review: Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History

Edward R. Dougherty

The Lessons of History offers a "stimulus to seriousness" in the study of history. 

Hillary’s Emails: The Silence of the Historians

John Rosenberg

John Rosenberg wonders why historians are silent while Hillary Clinton privatizes State Department historical materials.

APUSH Teachers Speak

Ashley Thorne

High school AP U.S. history teachers are coming forward to share their dissatisfaction with the current version of the College Board’s APUSH framework.

Peter Wood appears on NPR's To the Point

NAS

Dr. Wood discusses the revised APUSH standards with a panel on To the Point, hosted by Warren Olney.

Open Letter: Historians on the College Board's New AP U.S. History Standards

Scholars Concerned About Advanced Placement History

A group of historians write that the new AP U.S. History framework neglects the civic purpose of history education.

Historians in the Public Square

John Rosenberg

We need an accurate understanding of the Reconstruction in order to properly understand discrimination.

Education: That a Republic Is Only One Generation Old

George Seaver

An argument for why the part of education that is civic virtue, as seen throughout history, is essential to the survival of a republic.

AQ Contributor Writes for TIME Magazine on Distortion of History in "Selma"

Madison Iszler

Academic Questions contributor David Kaiser writes for TIME Magazine on why the movie Selma is historically inaccurate.

Study of American History is Losing its Priority

Stan Cohen

Generations of American students may be bypassing a field of study that is the cornerstone of the American legacy.

Open Letter to Texas Board of Education on College Board’s New History Framework

Peter Wood

Peter Wood writes an open letter to the Texas Board of Education, urging action against the new AP U.S. History standards.

The Coming Wars over Curriculum: A Case Study on Politics, History, and Social Studies Standards

Kevin S. Krahenbuhl

Dr. Kevin S. Krahenbuhl, Assistant Professor of Education at North Dakota State University, discusses declining curriculum standards and the need for strong core courses.

Why Conservatives are Up in Arms About the College Board's AP History Course

Peter Wood

"We are told that the course is the work of scholars whose only agenda was to create a good course. This doesn’t ring true."

Pushing American History as a Long Tale of Oppression

Peter Wood

The new APUSH is leaving out important figures in U.S. History and focusing instead on a history of the United States as an oppressor. 

Small Latin, and Less Greek

Bruce S. Thornton

Bruce Thornton, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and professor at California State University, Fresno, reviews Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures, and Innovations by Mary Beard.

Acknowledging Things of Darkness: Postcolonial Criticism of The Tempest

In the Fall 2014 issue of Academic Questions, Duke Pesta, associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, writes on the limitations of postcolional criticism.

Look What the College Board Has Done to U.S. History

Peter Wood

Peter Wood comments on the College Board's release of its new AP U.S. History curriculum.

The New AP History: A Preliminary Report

Peter Wood

In this preliminary report, NAS president Peter Wood analyzes in detail the new AP United States history course.

Brevity and Eloquence—Lessons From Calvin

Peter Wood

Calvin Coolidge offers lessons in how to make words count.

Taking Care

Ashley Thorne

Is art worth dying for? The Monuments Men considers the value of good art and its purpose in preserving a cultural heritage.

Postmodernism: Does it Have Marxist or Historicist Origins?

George Seaver

Much more than Marxism, Historicism has influenced culture and politics and accounts for many of the ideologies and sentiments that emerge in academia today.

Test Your Knowledge: Time Will Tell

Rachelle Peterson

This timely quiz prompts you to spend a moment stretching your mind. 

Test Your Knowledge: The Art of Lying

Rachelle Peterson

Fact, fiction, and intentionally fake: figure out what's truthful and what's treacherous. 

Test Your Knowledge: The Deaths of Western Civ

Rachelle Peterson

This grave quiz unearths the ends of Western civ's greats. 

Test Your Knowledge: Presidential Education

Rachelle Peterson

How much do you know about America's presidents relative to higher education?

Measuring Core Requirements

Ashley Thorne

The more expensive a college is, the less likely it is to have a strong core curriculum, finds the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA). 

Why Mitch Daniels Was Right

Peter Wood

Is Mitch Daniels against academic freedom? Dr. Wood doesn't think so.

Liberty and Letters: Celebrating Independence Day

Tessa Carter

The legacy of July 4 through the eyes of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

Ask a Scholar: Compare Views of Liberty in Late Colonial America

Martin Burke

Professor Martin Burke sorts out several contrasting views of liberty found in late colonial America.

NAS President to Debate at AAUP Conference

Tessa Carter

Peter Wood will debate issues concerning higher ed at AAUP's Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., this Friday.

Butterflies and Apes

Peter Wood

Two adventurous scholars of the 19th century, one of gorillas, one of butterflies, are examples of a nearly extinct thirst for knowledge and discovery as a personal undertaking.

Is Diplomatic History Dying?

Glenn Ricketts

If not dead, it's definitely on life support.

Texas Legislature Hears Arguments on "Comprehensive Survey" Bill

Ashley Thorne

The Texas House of Representatives' Higher Education Committee heard arguments for and against a bill that would clarify a preexisting bill requiring the study of U.S. history in college.

Theodore Hamerow, RIP

Stanley G. Payne

We mourn the passing of Professor Ted Hamerow, remembered here by a close colleague.

American History Bill Aims for a More Inclusive Curriculum

Thomas K. Lindsay

Thomas Lindsay offers a defense of the Texas American History Bill.

Why “Comprehensive” History is Controversial

Ashley Thorne

Two new bills that would require general education requirements for U.S. history to be met by courses providing "a comprehensive survey" are seen as a threat by proponents of Mexican American studies.

Unbiasing American History

Ashley Thorne

Ashley Thorne writes a review of Recasting History for First Things. 

“Frankly Dumb” or “Absolutely Correct”? You Decide

Crystal Plum

Read the responses to NAS's "Recasting History" report.

The Obsession with Social History

Richard Pells

Richard Pells, a historian who taught for 40 years at the University of Texas, says the report's main arguments are largely true.

Response to Professor Neuberger on Recasting History

Peter Wood

NAS president Peter Wood responds to a mischaracterization of NAS's report on U.S. history courses at the University of Texas and Texas A&M University.

Don’t Know Much About History: Colleges Teach History with Politics Left Out

Jonathan Bean

Jonathan Bean responds to NAS's recent report on Two Texas Universities' U.S. History Courses. He's not optimistic about history education.

Race, Class and Gender, Q&A with Peter Wood

The Daily Texan Editorial Board

The Daily Texan interviews Peter Wood on NAS's recent report, "Recasting History."

Recasting History: Are Race, Class, and Gender Dominating American History?

Peter Wood

A report on the politicization of required US history courses in Texas.

Early Responses to NAS Report Recasting History

NAS

NAS has received some responses from history professors and others to our forthcoming report, Recasting History. Some are not happy.

Perspectives Unbound

Robert L. Jackson

Confronted with the Howard Zinn-ing of history, Mary Grabar writes, “The abandonment of objectivity is an acknowledgement that one is no longer teaching history.”

In History—the Obsession with Race, Class and Gender

KC Johnson

The University of Michigan is an extreme example of the tendancy of college history departments to focus almost exclusively on race, class, and gender.

Reading History: Hedgehogs and Foxes

Bill Roden

History study should encourage students to engage with the lives and cultures they are studying rather than simply giving them preconceived ideas about series of events. 

UK Students And Their Blooping History Exams

Glenn Ricketts

UK history students demonstrate blooping proficiency.

Epic Battles

Peter Wood

Peter Wood weighs the cost of higher education’s turn away from Western civilization survey courses.

Another Good Program: History at Holy Cross College, Indiana

Glenn Ricketts

We add another academically solid program to our list.

Richard DeMillo’s Blog

George Leef

Mr. Leef highlights a blog of the author of Abelard to Apple.

Civic Education and Western Civilization

William H. Young

William Young discusses the role of civic education in the Western tradition, and the consequences of its disappearance from the curriculum.

Science and Western Civilization

William H. Young

William Young discusses the development of science in the Western intellectual tradition, noting that it has unfortunately become loosed from its original moorings.

Postmodern Mesmerists and Western Civilization

William H. Young

Although the American Founders were not seduced by fashionable pseudo-science from France, William Young notes that contemporary academics have eagerly embraced it.

Collegiate Press Roundup

Glenn Ricketts

Student journalists take on the big issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian standoff, campus diversity, religion and politics and what awaits graduating seniors out there in the real world.

Jefferson-Hemings Revisited

Peter Wood

Peter Wood reviews a new scholarly re-examination of the Thomas Jefferson-Sally Hemings controversy.

Teaching National History in the Age of Globalization

Glenn Ricketts

At some schools, you can get through without taking a single history course and still collect your bachelor's degree.

The Killing (and Queering) of History

Jonathan Bean

Over at The Beacon, I have a post on the latest requirement that Something Else must be taught in K-12 history textbooks. This time it is gay history but the real problem is the politicization of textbook content. Result: history is just "one damn thing after another."

US History and Public Knowledge: Bad, Getting Worse

Glenn Ricketts

As I wrote recently here, knowledge of American history is increasingly unfamiliar to Americans at all levels of the educational process, from K-12 to graduates of top-tier colleges and universities. The things that we don't know about our own past are simply jaw-dropping. Why aren't these core elements known to the public? Apparently, because they aren't taught. They aren't taught, I assume, because educators don't think they're worth knowing. As I noted, my parents and grandparents, most of them not college graduates, had a decent grip on the basics of the history and political institutions of the country in which they lived. But as we get younger, our historical acquaintance with those seminal aspects of the national experience seems to shrink drastically. Have a look at the results of this Marist poll, then take two aspirin. Special thanks to our regular columnist Jason Fertig for providing the link.

Metamorphosis, or Why We Should Study the West

Steve Balch

NAS board chairman Steve Balch argues that generations detached from their culture's legacy will be less likely to defend it now, or in the future.

The Dangerous Mr. Khan

David Clemens

Khan Academy's video lectures may work for teaching math and science, but history gets short-changed in favor of quick information transfer and a too-zoomed-out big picture view.

Vanishing Act

Peter Wood

Peter Wood discusses NAS's new research report on what has happened to Western-history survey courses in the last half-century.

Crania Academia

Peter Wood

The academy undermines itself when it belittles the efforts of earlier generations of scholars.

Sustainability as Conservative Ideology

Mitchell Langbert

Environmentalist ideology in the guise of sustainability is everywhere. It is pap. The words sustainability, conservation and conservatism are linked. They suggest protection of the status quo. Until the Progressive era Americans were not concerned with conservation because they assumed that progress would make life better. Sustaining the status quo paled beside a glowing manifest destiny. Perhaps today's progressive interest in sustainability is an admission that the left is not progressive but conservative. 

Duked Out

Glenn Ricketts

Duke history Professor Peter Wood, not to be confused with NAS's president of the same name. seems to use the classroom to malign the character of students, lacrosse players in particular. Nevertheless, the American Historical Association awarded him Eugene Asher Distinguished Teacher award for this year.

Tea Party Derangement Syndrome

Peter Wood

Intellectual snobbery in academe produces minds closed to debate.

Domestic Faction in a Republic, Part I

George Seaver

Postmodern ideology, with its roots in higher education, is the source of poisonous faction in the United States today, writes George Seaver. But in the ancient Greek republics, factions were often beneficial.

Dust Bowl Dust-Off

Ashley Thorne

Do errors and bias distort the findings in a key environmental history book? An expert investigates.

Michelle Malkin on Zinn and 'Social Justice' Education

Ashley Thorne

This week in Frontpage Magazine Michelle Malkin has an article, "Hollywood and Howard Zinn's Marxist Education Project." Here's an excerpt:

Zinn’s objective is not to impart knowledge, but to instigate “change” and nurture a political “counterforce” (an echo of fellow radical academic and Hugo Chavez admirer Bill Ayers’ proclamation of education as the “motor-force of revolution”). Teachers are not supposed to teach facts in the school of Zinn. “There is no such thing as pure fact,” Zinn asserts. Educators are not supposed to emphasize individual academic achievement. They are supposed to “empower” student collectivism by emphasizing “the role of working people, women, people of color and organized social movements.” School officials are not facilitators of intellectual inquiry, but leaders of “social struggle.” Zinn and company have launched a nationwide education project in conjunction with the documentary. “A people’s history requires a people’s pedagogy to match,” Zinn preaches. The project is a collaboration between two “social justice” activist groups, Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change. [...] No part of the school curriculum is immune from the social justice makeover crew. Zinn’s partners at Rethinking Schools have even issued teaching guides to “Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers” — which rejects the traditional white male patriarchal methods of teaching computation and statistics in favor of p.c.-ified number-crunching [see NAS's articles on this, "Social Changelings" and "Mathematical Deceptions"]. [...] Our students will continue to come in dead last in international testing. But no worries. With Howard Zinn and Hollywood leftists in charge, empty-headed young global citizens will have heavier guilt, wider social consciences and more hatred for America than any other students in the world.

Bias Against Southern Scholarship?

Ashley Thorne

An article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed (subscription required) highlights the Abbeville Institute, which is "an association of scholars in higher education devoted to a critical study of what is true and valuable in the Southern tradition." Here are some quotes from the article: Professor Donald W. Livingston (Institute's founder): "Academics who claim to find something valuable in the Southern tradition are sure to suffer abuse." "The university should be the place where the unthinkable can be thought and the unspeakable said as long as it is backed by civil conduct and argument.  It is not that today" Heidi Beirich (Southern Poverty Law Center): "At the end of the day, they are just trying to revise the history of the South in favor of whites." Clyde N. Wilson (Charter Abbeville member): ""The academic tendency now, because of America's preoccupation with the race question the last half-century or so, is to put the whole Southern history into a dark little corner of American history." Check out the Abbeville website and see what you think.

The Spirit That Makes a College

Ken Daniszewski

Given the problems facing higher education today, this speech on the purpose of college delivered by Justice Wendell Phillips Stafford at the Sesqui-Centennial of Dartmouth College in 1919 seems as timely as ever. Here is an excerpt:

(The spirit of college) has shown itself in men who never knew how the inside of a college looked. When Lincoln jotted down the main facts of his life for the Congressional Directory, he wrote: "Education defective." And yet, tried by the test we are applying now, he was college-bred. The question is not, whether you studied Euclid in a classroom or stretched out on the counter of a country store. The question is, whether you mastered it. Lincoln did. And the thews and sinews of his mind, which he developed so, stood by him in the day when he threw Douglas down. John Keats was as innocent of the Greek language as the new curriculum assumes all men should be; yet out of some stray book on mythology the " miserable apprentice to an apothecary " contrived to draw into his soul the very spirit of Hellenic art, until he left us poems which Hellenists declare to be more Grecian than the Greek. He, too, was college-bred, as we now mean it, for he was impelled by that determination to subdue and fructify his powers, with the aid of all the past has left us, until they yielded something glorious and undying for his fellow men. His spirit was not the spirit of the dove, but of the eagle: "My spirit is too weak! Mortality Weighs heavily on me, like unwilling sleep; And each imagined pinnacle and steep Of godlike hardship tells me I must die, Like a sick eagle looking at the sky." If I am right, there lie wrapt up in this determination those three aims: (1) to discipline one's powers and make them fruitful; (2) in order to accomplish this, to make use of all that men have gained before us; and (3) to devote these powers and acquisitions to the common weal. The advantage the college has is this: that here the determined spirit finds the tool-shop and the arsenal. That spirit itself the college can foster and encourage but cannot create. It can and does lay open to its use the weapons and the tools. It can and does teach, in a fair, general way, what men thus far have done. It leads the newcomer to the point where they left off, and says: "Begin here, if you would not waste your time. This territory has been conquered. Go forth from this frontier." It also shows the worker of the present day what other men are doing. It brings him into touch with them, that he may put his effort forth where it will tell the most."

Stafford's entire text can be found here.

Military Blogs: The First Pages of History

Jonathan Bean

As an instructor of online history courses, I have many students overseas (Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq, Saudi Arabia). The Internet connects them to me (and to the rest of us). The stories I could relate are fascinating and make teaching online courses all the more rewarding. Moreover, as an instructor I know that I'm helping those who are "American, Interrupted" Even more important, soldiers of all ranks have blogged their way into history, thus writing what we used to say of newspapers: "the first pages" of history. Read the following from the above "American, Interrupted" blog:

"I look up at the now familiar Arabian night sky and gaze at the stars, my close friends over this past year. Those same stars will ever hang in the sky and endure – like our love. Under those same points of light we’ll lay not too long from now, and those stars will smile just for us, because they know how long we’ve wished upon them to be together again. I love you, I’m so thankful for you, and I can’t wait to spend forever with you. Sometimes I wondered if we were not unintentionally promoting anarchy because of this war on terror. I mean, we were encouraging and supporting rebellious elements of the population in their struggle against Saddam Hussein – thinking their struggle was one to free themselves of his rule. Sometimes I wondered if the struggle was to free themselves of all rules so they could establish a Shia theocracy. That would explain why Americans were in the crosshairs of Shia rebels. Many of them comprised the poorest and worst educated parts of Iraq, but it was these very people who we were making the masters of Iraq in the period of a year. This belief in empowering the weak and oppressed is noble, but it has to be done carefully. Sometimes it seemed the transfer of power bordered on a form of Bolshevism."

[To read the whole story (crossposted) click here ] PS: Imagine if college campuses allowed this kind of free speech. We wouldn't need NAS, FIRE, or the few intrepid ACLU chapters interested in academic freedom. More free speech in the military than in higher ed? Read the rest of the story to decide (and check out the Milblogging directory).

Marching Forward

Ashley Thorne

An update on the military and higher education.

How Not to Learn from History

Carol Iannone

A look at how the case of Alger Hiss illustrates the Left

Lincoln's Bicentennial

Peter Wood

Happy 200th birthday Abe!

Rescue: The New Captivity of Hans Staden

Peter Wood

A centuries-old tale of life among native cannibals can't be allowed to stand as a captivating narrative. It must be sanitized in one way or another by PC revisionists.

Strange New Respect for Abe

Peter Wood

Was the seventeenth U.S. president one of the worst?

Happy Birthday John Milton!

Ashley Thorne

The poet who brought us Paradise Lost turns 400 today.

Rocket Science

Peter Wood

NAS pays homage to an inventor

Evolving

Peter Wood

The endless injunction in schools and colleges to

Election Eve

Peter Wood

When tempted to fret over the election, read world history...

Crying Out Loud

Glenn Ricketts

Scholarships for cheerleaders but none for history readers

Lazere v. Gelernter

Peter Wood

On the Sometimes Difficult Task of Setting the Record Straight or Getting Heard Above the Din Especially if Your Points Are Prolix

Vietnam: Historians at War

Mark Moyar

Has reasoned study of the Vietnam War been trampled by radical adherence to the politically correct?