History is an inseparable part of the academic curriculums, although many students do not possess rich knowledge in this subject. Many politicians and historians try to solve the problem. The debate of Jon Wiener and Diane Ravitch touches upon the content of the history course as well as the ideas of improving the quality of teaching.
Jon Wiener (2005) considers that the course of history should involve not only heroic episodes but rather show multiple perspectives including people who were not at the forefront, like slaves or immigrants. He offers “teaching the conflicts” as the best medium for learning history (Wiener, 2005) which presupposes the discussion of various opinions and the development of critical thinking. Therefore, freedom remains the central aspect of the history course, however, students get a complex analysis of changes of this phenomenon in time.
Diane Ravitch (2005) denies the effectiveness of “teaching the conflicts” because students do not know the main facts to discuss different points. The problem is that history smothered in social sciences and many teachers lack the knowledge of history. Thus, the incompetent teachers turn history into a boring subject. Besides, the idea of multiple perspectives can embrace unimportant discussions and the main aim is to select the most significant topics.
Diane Ravitch has a stronger position in this discussion as she takes a deeper insight into this issue and tries to change the roots of the problem. Diane Ravitch concentrates much on the quality of teaching and ways to improve it. As for the Jon Wiener’s approach, it is more superficial as he pays attention only to the content of the history course.
People grasp the lessons of history in order to avoid mistakes in future. However, history does not offer one approach or one truth. Any event can be regarded from many perspectives; therefore, historians still disagree on many issues. The debate underpins this idea, as Wiener and Ravitch cannot find the compromise. Both their opinions concerning the methods and quality of teaching are reasonable and supplemented by arguments.
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