Fighting history hoaxes

May 11, 2007

Daily Kos I don’t get to daily. But here’s a post I did see that all history teachers ought to read, if only to raise their consciousness about the frauds that plague us every day: Help Fight Fake History that Powers the American Right.

Fight fake historyChris Rodda needs help supporting her research against all the old dogs of history revisionism, and the post from Troutfishing goes through most of the dishonor roll: D. James Kennedy, David Barton, Catherine Millard, and Chuck Norris

Rodda’s blog series can be found at Talk2Action.

My interest in getting history done right was kindled when high school teachers mentioned early versions of David Barton’s work — stuff that showed up on tests, though anyone who had read our texts and had a passing knowledge of real history would have known was in error. As a staffer in the U.S. Senate I had to got to read letters from people who bought the Barton tales lock, stock, and monkey barrel, and who consequently felt that everyone else on Earth was lying to them.

I wish Rodda luck.

Dying to get the news in Iraq

May 11, 2007

74 journalists have died trying to get the news in Iraq since the U.S. invasion four years ago.  Has any other war produced so many dead journalists, so fast?  That number is about 16 per year.

The Newseum has a memorial to journalists who died trying to get the story.  It contains just over 1,500 names, for wars from the War of 1812 to the present.

Each year, the Freedom Forum commemorates World Press Freedom Day by rededicating the Journalists Memorial, which pays tribute to reporters, editors, photographers and broadcasters who gave their lives reporting the news. On May 3, 2006, the names of 59 journalists who died or were killed while on assignment in 2005 were added to the glass panels of the memorial. The rededication ceremony featured remarks by David Westin, president of ABC News. The Journalists Memorial now honors 1,665 journalists who died covering the news from 1812 through 2005.

What is it about this war that makes it so much more deadly than other wars, for journalists?  What does that say about the state of our world today, and the respect traditionally show to people who simply report what happens?

Where is your podcast?

May 11, 2007

Kids in schools have things in their ears. Between classes it’s earphones for iPods, MP3 players, CD players, cell phones that play music an video — and of course they try to stretch it into class, too. “If I can listen to my music in class, I won’t make trouble,” they say.

To which I respond, “I don’t deal with terrorists.”

The students are telling teachers something, and most of us are missing the message: We need to get education into their iPods and MP3 players.

For example, Nora’s itec 845 blog wonders about converting podcasts to print, for hearing-impaired students. Do you even have podcasts for classroom use or augmentation? (I wager this blog is a classroom assignment — students are working in areas their teachers don’t know anything about?)

Check out the Education Podcast Network. If your students told you they were getting information from this site, would you know whether it was quality information? Would you even know how to check?

Teachers should be using podcasts to deliver lectures, deliver supplementary material, to discuss homework, and to inform parents about homework and other activities.  Are you using podcasts for any of that?

If you don’t think you’re missing the podcast boat, go here and see what some of the possibilities you’re missing really are:  Around the Corner.   Or, go there just to get ideas.

Hey, what are you waiting for?

Inherent evils of public education

May 11, 2007

Public schools have serious problems.  Regular readers here should know me as a defender of public education, especially in the Thomas Jefferson/James Madison model of a foundation stone for a free people and essential tool for good government in a democratic republic.

Can you take another view?  Here’s one that should offer serious material for thought:  How the Public School System Crushes Souls.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Pick the Brain.

News on trial: Newseum makes grand plans

May 11, 2007

Newshounds, newsmakers and news writers ought to salivate at the idea of a grand museum to the First Amendment on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., in Washington, D.C.  Organizers of the Newseum plan exactly that, with a grand opening in October 2007.

It promises serious analysis, not just cheerleading, for news media, according to the New York Times:

The Newseum’s goal is to present the “first rough draft of history” in all its glory and some of its shame, impressing upon visitors the importance of the First Amendment’s protections of a free press. In the glory department are Edward R. Murrow’s rooftop broadcasts from London during the Blitz; he is among the heroes of a short movie to be shown in the Newseum’s 4-D theater, where the seats will literally shake as German planes roar overhead.

The shame is evident in exhibits examining, among other things, Jayson Blair’s manufactured articles in The New York Times and Jack Kelley’s fabrications in USA Today. Videos address the use of anonymous sources and how bias can find its way into news accounts.

One of the museum’s major challenges will be to attract visitors at a time when surveys show that public respect for the news media has been ebbing. Charles L. Overby, chief executive of the Freedom Forum, the nonprofit organization that underwrites the Newseum, discussed the problem in an interview in his temporary office adjacent to the construction site.

“Our annual survey shows that 40 percent of the American public believes the press has too much freedom,” he said, adding that the museum’s job is to educate — in an engaging way.

The Newseum, he emphasized, is not meant to be a monument to the press, but to its freedom.

Because of the building’s location, one could do a tour of the FBI building, and close out the day with a tour of the Newseum, probably from the same bus stop.

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