Education

As high school librarian, I am so pleased about your efforts to save American Heritage.  I have always recommended it to our American History students.  Read more >>

It's critical to focus on history and civics education in our schools in order to have a well-informed citizenry.

It is painful to see a state such as Massachusetts — so central to our Nation's past — plan to cut back even more on the teaching of American history. Read more >>

A famous educator reviews 100 years of service by the land-grant colleges

The year 1955 marks the centennial of one of the greatest landmarks in our American heritage of education for all the people. A century ago, the Michigan State College and the Pennsylvania State University were founded as the first of a group of uniquely new and evolutionary institutions of higher learning. These twin birthdays have been recognized by the issuance of a special commemorative U.S. postage stamp, dedicated to the two institutions and to the land-grant college idea as conceived in 1862 by Act of Congress. Read more >>

Not what you may think

At one point in his 1988 book The Thirteenth Man , the former Secretary of Education Terrel Bell speaks of the decline of secondary education in America. Read more >>

A BOLD NEW KIND OF COLLEGE COURSE BRINGS the student directly to the past, nonstop, overnight, in squalor and glory, for weeks on end

The fiercest struggle going on in education is about who owns the past. Militant multi-culturalists say that traditional history teaching has brushed out minority ethnic identities. Their opponents say that radical multiculturalism leads toward national fragmentation.

In 1987 a sweeping revision of the social studies program in New York State public schools gave the curriculum a strong multicultural slant. Read more >>

A guide who has been taking it all in for sixty years leads us on a lively, intimate, and idiosyncratic ramble through quiet yards where students once argued about separating from the Crown and to hidden carvings high on the Gothic towers that show scholars sleeping through class and getting drunk on beer

"That building on the left,” said the tour guide, “is William L. Harkness Hall. It was given by Mr. Harkness in 1926 and completed in 1927. It is built of Aquia sandstone with Ohio sandstone trim. Read more >>

In the early sixties it was going to revolutionize American education. By the early seventies it had confounded a generation of schoolchildren. Today it is virtually forgotten. But as we head toward another round of educational reforms, we should recall why it went wrong.

Its founding fathers are dead, its disciples scattered, its millions long spent. Yet countless Americans still carry the revolutionary message of new math in their memories, if not always close to their hearts. Read more >>

A novelist and historian takes us on a tour of the Academy at Annapolis, where American history encompasses the history of the world.

Watery is the first word that comes to mind as you enter the main gate of the U.S. Naval Academy, at the foot of the Maryland town that has become the school’s other name, Annapolis. Read more >>

Since the birth of the nation, the public’s perception of the quality of public schools has swung from approval to dismay and back again. Here an eminent historian traces the course of school reform and finds that neither conservative nor liberal movements ever fully achieve their aims—which may be just as well.

In a historic meeting at Charlottesville, Virginia, last September, President George Bush and the nation’s governors promised to revitalize America’s public schools by establishing “clear national performance goals, goals that will make us internationally competitive.” Their la Read more >>

What seemed to be just another tempest in the teapot of academia has escalated into a matter of national values and politics. Who would have believed that the choice of which books Stanford University students must read would create so much tumult? And that the controversy goes back so far?

Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind must surely be the most unexpected happening of American intellectual life in recent years. It is an erudite, closely argued book of philosophy and cultural criticism. Read more >>

That was the question an Oklahoma high school teacher sent out in a handwritten note to men and women who had been prominent movers or observers during the Vietnam War. Politicians and journalists and generals and combat veterans answered him. Secretaries of Defense answered him. Presidents answered him. Taken together, the answers form a powerful and moving record of the national conscience.

Last year my principal and friend, Rick Elliott, told me that he wanted the Vietnam War to be covered more thoroughly than it had been in the social studies classes at our junior high school in Pryor, Oklahoma. Read more >>

His speech was called “our intellectual Declaration of Independence.” Its theme was the universe itself; its hero, Man Thinking. Now, one hundred and seventy-five years later, a noted scholar sees Emerson’s great vision as both more beleaguered and more urgent than ever.

ON AUGUST 31, 1837, THE DAY AFTER COMMENCEMENT—they don’t seem to have gone in for vacations in those earnest times—the academic year at Harvard was ushered in with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s address to Phi Beta Kappa on a stock topic, “The American Scholar.” The meetin Read more >>

You Asked for It

When American Heritage suggested last year that I put together the article that became “101 Things Every College Graduate Should Know about American History,” I accepted the assignment eagerly. Read more >>

A distinguished American poet recalls one of his more unusual jobs

When I was twenty-five, I spent a year tutoring the son of the king of Siam and his friend, the son of the Siamese prime minister. Fifty-five years later I am still filled with wonder when I think about it. Read more >>

If the historians themselves are no longer interested in defining the structure of the American past, how can the citizenry understand its heritage? The author examines the disrepair in which the professors have left their subject.

In the mid-sixteenth century, a blind and deaf old Spanish soldier named Bernai Díaz del Castillo set out to write an account of what he had seen and done as a follower of Hernando Cortés during the conquest of Mexico. Read more >>

On Harvard’s 350th anniversary, a distinguished alumnus salutes his proud and often thorny alma mater

This September Harvard University will observe the 350th anniversary of its founding. It will do so with ceremony only somewhat less resplendent than the celebration of its tercentenary in 1936. Read more >>

After a year at the University of Missouri boning up on American history, a Chinese professor tells what she discovered about us and how she imparts her new knowledge to the folks back home in the People’s Republic.

In my mind, my life has been very uneventful. Read more >>

This is not a test. It’s the real thing.

How precise is the educated American’s understanding of the history of our country? I don’t mean exact knowledge of minor dates, or small details about the terms of laws, or questions like “Who was secretary of war in 1851?” ( Answer: Charles M. Read more >>

At a time when our civilization is trying to organize itself on scientific principles of mathematical probabilities, statistical modeling, and the like, is traditional narrative history of any real use? Yes, says a distinguished practitioner of the discipline; it can always help us. It might even save us.

I was recently sent a well-argued report written by sensible people which insisted that a larger place must be found in our schools and colleges for instruction in mathematics and “quantitative thinking.” Scarcely had I finished reading it when a full professor came by to tell Read more >>

Fascinating legal cases such as Hawkins v. McGee are known to lawyers across the land—and to almost nobody else.

Packages that explode when dropped, cows that unexpectedly turn fertile, hands that sprout hair, and little boys who pull chairs out from under old ladies are the foundation of the American legal profession. Read more >>

When many of our greatest authors were children, they were first published in the pages of St. Nicholas

At first, it might seem F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Eudora Welty, and E. B. White have little in common besides their country of birth and their line of work. Read more >>

A gathering of little-known drawings from Columbia
University’s Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library illuminates two centuries of American building

ONE OF THE WORLD’S most renowned architectural institutions is named for a virtually unknown architect who died at age thirty-eight, too young to have made more than a promising start in his own career. Read more >>

Over any extended period of time, the state of historical thinking about the great national topics changes in both subtle and dramatic ways. New facts and interpretations are being debated, written about, and taught. To keep you informed, AMERICAN HERITAGE introduces the first of a series.

THE PAST ,” the great French historian Marc Bloch once wrote, “is, by definition, a datum which nothing in the future will change.” This seems so obvious as scarcely to merit mention. Read more >>

An Interview With Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer

If he’d been the closest companion of the president of IBM, you might happen across his name in a privately printed memoir. But LeMoyne Billings was John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s best friend from Choate to the White House—and that makes him part of history.

CROATE, 1935 Read more >>

One of America s truly great men—scientist, philosopher, and literary genius—forged his character in the throes of adversity

THE YEAR IS 1890 and the place Cambridge, Massachusetts. Read more >>

The author recalls two generations of “Cliffie” life—hers and her mother’s—in the years when male and female education took place on opposite sides of the Cambridge Common and women were expected to wear hats in Harvard Square

My mother was a member of the class of 1899 at Radcliffe College, having come east from St. Paul, Minnesota—a sort of reverse pioneer. Read more >>

A stern but brilliant Yankee revolutionized American higher education while president of our oldest university

Charles William Eliot cast a long shadow for a good many of his descendants, naturally enough. As a great-grandchild of his I felt it, too. The summers of my earliest boyhood, at Northeast Harbor, Maine, were spent partly in his austere presence. Read more >>

In founding Groton, Endicott Peabody was sure that muscular Christianity would protect
boys from the perils of loaferism

One of the most illustrious of these benevolent despots was the Reverend Endicott Peabody, who founded Groton School in 1884 and served it with all his might and main for over half a century. Read more >>