I've been in education of some kind for over fifteen years now, and over these

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I've been in education of some kind for over fifteen years now, and over these years I've had many history classes, concerning a variety of topics. Something strange happens in all of them, though - without exception, the classes never seem to spend more than a single session on anything that happened after the 1950s. In high school, we had a single class to talk about the Cold War; two other years of history didn't even go that far, except in the broadest of strokes with mentions of decolonialism. In a college course on American history, our last session was the origins and beginnings of the civil rights movement, with nothing beyond that. The social, technological, political and ideological shifts in the past half-century seem to be deemed unworthy of teaching. Why is this? Aren't the social and technological developments of the last sixty or seventy years at least as critical to the understanding of modern society as the sum of all that came before? What is the importance of teaching the history of the distant past, and why is it that the recent past isn't comparatively as important?

I've always thought it would be interesting to do a history course in reverse. Start with the later events (beginning in present) and have students consider what history might have looked like to lead to these later events, working backwards as far as possible. I always hated that my history classes ended before things got interesting (where "interesting" means, you know, when I am on the scene).

(If you are ever in DC, the Newseum offers some good exhibits to learn recent history.)

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