In the second part of a two-part “60 Minutes” interview which aired today, historian David McCullough took a swipe at American education, calling the country’s children “historically illiterate” and encouraging teachers to major in subjects other than education. McCullough was careful to spread the blame:
I ran into some students on university campuses who were bright and attractive and likeable. And I was just stunned by how much they didn’t know. One young woman at a university in the Midwest came up to me after one of my talks and said that until she heard me speak that morning she’d never understood that the original 13 colonies were all on the East Coast. And I thought, “What are we doing that’s so wrong, so pathetic?” I tried it again at several other places, colleges and universities, same thing. Now, it’s not their fault. It’s our fault. And when I say our fault I don’t mean just the teachers. I mean the parents and grandparents. We have to take part.
Viewers were quick to agree with McCullough’s dire diagnosis.
One fix suggested: bring back the family dinner table.
McCullough did call for the nation to “seriously revamp the teaching of the teachers,” adding that he didn’t feel that “any professional teacher should major in education” — another suggestion applauded by many.