Introduction To “General Miseducation”

The Republican governor of Florida, who seems planning to run for president in 2024, continues to seek to find new ways under law to try to tell professional educators how they must instruct students. This next is not now about “12 year olds” and “p*rnography.” He is seeking to restrict what may be taught to adults in Florida colleges and universities:

[From Instagram.]

For within this latest new law, is also this:

General education core courses may not distort significant historical events or include a curriculum that teaches identity politics… or is based on theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, and economic inequities.

Assuming in Florida a basic introduction to U.S. history is considered a “general education” course (what was called where I was a history instructor a “core” course – meaning all students must take it), or its content is taught within another course (such as in the humanities), that law would seem inevitably bound to create true historical distortion:

[The Declaration of Independence, by John Trumbull. That famous painting – painted long after the event and displayed now in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda – is a fanciful representation of its signing; historically, no such single gathering of the signers and “presentation” of it ever occurred. Photo by me, my office, Dartmouth, Devon, May 2023.]

For example, a law forcing educators to teach within those “parameters” clearly infringes on how an instructor may approach even the subject of the Declaration of Independence in a lecture without making a mockery of the entire idea of higher education, which is in the social sciences and the humanities rooted in “investigation” and “criticism.”

For under that law and those “parameters,” I would have an, uh, interesting time (to say the least) trying to explain to a class of Introduction to U.S. History 101 students why all 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were white men (some of whom also owned enslaved Blacks)…

…when the country in 1776 was also half women (the white ones could not vote, or serve in office, and were essentially regardless of age considered “minors” under the law; and presumably none of that could legally be mentioned either), was about 1/3 Black (of whom most were enslaved and even those few Black men who were not did not have truly equal rights with white men under the law; and presumably nothing about that could legally be mentioned either), and Native Americans were not even part of the discussion (as they were generally considered “foreigners”; and presumably that could not legally be mentioned either).

Under the current Florida governor’s and his supporters’ notions of “history,” that television musical cartoon above that was aimed at young children to serve as a SIMPLISTIC initial introduction, is how the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution must it would seem under that law be explained to a group of 18-21-year-old adults in 2023.

A rather ridiculous thought that, I know. Yet it seems disturbingly accurate.

Have a good weekend, wherever you are in the world. 🙂

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