Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on November 24, 2001

Well, I didn't write my Thanksgiving column as promised. It's two days later, and I guess it's not going to get written. Right now, in my mind, what I'm thankful for is nothing more than a laundry list which really doesn't lend itself to a column. Also, I'm not sure what I'm thankful for is all that different than what everyone else is thankful for.

"History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life and brings us tidings of antiquity."

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC), Pro Publio Sestio

On the list of things I'm thankful for (below things like friends and family) is my education. I had quite a few good teachers in high school and college. I passed the Advanced Placement U.S. history test in high school, allowing me to skip Hist 214 in college. (Sometimes in nightmares I imagine how my history-teacher father would have reacted had I failed that test.) But Cal Poly San Luis Obispo does require a course in U.S. history, and another in world history. Some of the latest news is that there are many colleges -- including some of the most prestigious in the country -- that allows students to graduate with NO history requirement. For a list of the offensive (or offending) institutions, click here.

UC Berkeley, also known as Bezerkeley, actually allows students to skip U.S. history if they received a "C" or better in the subject in high school. It doesn't matter if you went to the best high school in the country, a "C" in a college prep course satisfying a requirement in a four-year university is criminally stupid.

I'm not opposed to technical schools, but I've always been a little miffed when they try to promote their programs by suggesting that English, history and other humanities courses are "stupid" or "unnecessary." These schools have a place in our educational landscape, but there should be some difference in the academic requirements at Coleman College and those at Harvard or Yale.

And the fact that these institutions aren't educating students is becoming more and more apparent -- and I'm not referring to the idiots that they get to appear on the TV show "Street Smarts." In a recent survey of college seniors, only 34 percent knew that George Washington was the commanding general at the battle of Yorktown. This is troubling, because you'd figure, that even if you didn't know -- the best guess would be good ol' George. Unfortunately, a greater number, 37 percent, thought that the commanding general at that battle of the American Revolution was Ulysses S. Grant.

I guess that I'm lucky. I like to read. I'll read just about anything, and, due to the fact that my father was a history teacher, I've often had good, interesting books to read. I think it's very unfortunate that so many people don't read. They miss so much. They learn so little.

Please feel free to use the comment link at the bottom of each post if you'd like to say something about what I've written for everyone to see.


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November 2001



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