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"The Decline of Historical Thinking" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2020 3:56 p.m. PST

"Having ignored questions of economic inequality for decades, economists and other scholars have recently discovered a panoply of effects that go well beyond the fact that some people have too much money and many don't have enough. Inequality affects our physical and mental health, our ability to get along with one another and to make our voices heard and our political system accountable, and, of course, the futures that we can offer our children. Lately, I've noticed a feature of economic inequality that has not received the attention it deserves. I call it "intellectual inequality."

I do not refer to the obvious and ineluctable fact that some people are smarter than others but, rather, to the fact that some people have the resources to try to understand our society while most do not. Late last year, Benjamin M. Schmidt, a professor of history at Northeastern University, published a study demonstrating that, for the past decade, history has been declining more rapidly than any other major, even as more and more students attend college. With slightly more than twenty-four thousand current history majors, it accounts for between one and two per cent of bachelor's degrees, a drop of about a third since 2011. The decline can be found in almost all ethnic and racial groups, and among both men and women. Geographically, it is most pronounced in the Midwest, but it is present virtually everywhere…"
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pzivh43 Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2020 4:07 p.m. PST

Must be true, it's a New Yorker article. I'm sure everyone would agree Barak Obama has more money than he needs (net worth $40 USD million) while Newt Gingrich does not have enough (a measly $14 USD million).

Belongs in Utter Drivel.

Col Durnford Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2020 4:12 p.m. PST

The biggest decline in historical thinking is believing Marxism is the answer.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2020 5:13 p.m. PST

He who does not study the past is doomed to repeat it

Perris070714 Sep 2020 6:09 p.m. PST

I think you can drop the "Historical" from the topic title.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian14 Sep 2020 6:41 p.m. PST

Maybe it has something to do with the economic worth of the degree?

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2020 6:54 p.m. PST

Perris0707 for the win.

Once college started being a thing you had to do get a decent job, instead of an experience you had that helped you understand the world, academic majors started to decline.

Finance, business, marketing, advertising, communications, medical technology, and computer science are not college majors. They are vocational programs, like auto mechanics. There's nothing wrong with them; they teach important skills that can help people transition to a materially better station in life. They're just not college programs.

Don't get me started on what's wrong with higher education, though. This is just scratching the surface.

Yes, I do have a B.A. in history. No, I don't think that biases my analysis.

HansPeterB Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2020 7:58 p.m. PST

I'm not sure what inspires the vitriol on display here. The article does not advocate Marxism: it just makes the fairly obvious point that when economic necessity is the main driver behind higher education, then programs such as History are going to lose out to vocational degrees. I teach History at the University of North Dakota, and here it's aerospace, drones, business and oil, all the time. Administration sells our degrees as investments in our students' monetary futures, and pays the merest lip service to the traditional values of the liberal arts. But, as the article in question makes clear, that is where the money is; and as public investment in Higher Ed. shrinks year by year (state funding now accounts for only a fraction of our budget), there are not a lot of alternatives available. Unless you're Yale. Which was the point of the essay. Go to Yale, and you can afford to take a chance on a History major; go to a reasonably priced public school and probably not. I'm not trying to pick a political quarrel, but simply to confirm the fairly obvious fact that History programs in the US are in serious trouble. If that's a cause for general concern I suppose is another matter.

Personal logo Silurian Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2020 8:21 p.m. PST

Nicely put Hans.

mghFond14 Sep 2020 8:48 p.m. PST

I agree with Hans, it's been obvious for a long time now to me that history is being squeezed out or ignored in our scholastic curriculums. Not just at the college level but high school and elementary.

Andrew Preziosi15 Sep 2020 2:38 a.m. PST

Another vote for Hans viewpoint!

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP15 Sep 2020 1:03 p.m. PST

Hans + 4


von Schwartz20 Sep 2020 3:27 p.m. PST

I agree that the study of history has been seriously lacking in the last couple of decades but, with the high price of a college education, who can afford the luxury of obtaining a degree in a field where there is a serious dearth of job openings?
My interest in history could only be satisfied after I could afford it by obtaining a degree in a field that was lacking trained and educated individuals. And once having accomplished that, I spent the lions share of the next 30-40 years paying off my mortgage and keeping food on the table. So, I don't believe it is the result of a lack of interest but an abundance of pragmatism

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