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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Texas Board of Education revises course curriculum (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Texas Board of Education revises course curriculum
SoaPiNuReYe
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Link
quote:
– To avoid exposing students to “transvestites, transsexuals and who knows what else,” the Board struck the curriculum’s reference to “sex and gender as social constructs.”

– The Board removed Thomas Jefferson from the Texas curriculum, “replacing him with religious right icon John Calvin.”

– The Board refused to require that “students learn that the Constitution prevents the U.S. government from promoting one religion over all others.”

– The Board struck the word “democratic” from the description of the U.S. government, instead terming it a “constitutional republic.”


I'm not exactly sure why they would remove Thomas Jefferson from their curriculum, but at any rate, this is pretty alarming if you ask me.
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Lyrhawn
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They're angry at Jefferson for his crazy ideas about separation of church and state, which they've also edited out of their curriculum.

Seriously, that's why.

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Blayne Bradley
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And Texas has now reserved itself as the but of every joke for the next 22 years now.
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malanthrop
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They removed historical figures that they disagree with and inserted those they agree with. History should include them both. Unfortunately, education is controlled by politicians who aren't interested in history, rather ideology.

History is determined by the victor. The right is taking control all over the nation and they are undoing the similar actions of the left. History should be outside of politics. Unfortunately, the left has skewed education to the point that students don't even learn the constitution. Jefferson shouldn't be omitted and the second amendment should be required curriculum. The constitution and history of our nation shouldn't be defined by the party in charge.

History isn't silly putty to fulfill an agenda. You're just seeing the first wave of the conservative movement. They are no better than the liberals. Both have an agenda and neither should be in control of history.

What you are witnessing is politics warping history. The conservatives are undoing years of liberal bias in the schools. How's it feel to have the shoe on the other foot?

How about a history class without an agenda?

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Jefferson shouldn't be omitted and the second amendment should be required curriculum.
I'm curious, what do you think this would accomplish?
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Scott R
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I am not liking this change at all.

But let me note that Thomas Jefferson wasn't omitted from the history books entirely. This article from the NY Times clarifies that he was removed from a list of individuals whose writings inspired the Revolution.

The NY Times article is vastly superior to the ThinkProgress article.

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Foust
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It's on the main page.
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Scott R
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What's on the main page?
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Raventhief
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What does it mean to remove a person from the curriculum? They don't mention that we had a president named Thomas Jefferson?

And the bit about the democracy vs constitutional republic is true, so I don't see the problem.

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mr_porteiro_head
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(Scott already answered that question.)
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Darth_Mauve
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So the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence did not write anything that inspired the revolution?
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Darth_Mauve:
So the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence did not write anything that inspired the revolution?

Well the Declaration itself came out mid conflict but it certainly moved things into a new gear. Of course Mr. Jefferson had already written many things that were published in papers that other founding fathers, and common folks, would have read and been inspired by.
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ClaudiaTherese
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quote:
Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer from Richmond who is a strict constitutionalist and thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs, managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone.
Well, you know, it was one of the more minor revolutions.
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MrSquicky
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Also, along with George Mason and James Madison, Thomas Jefferson drafted the Constitution of Virginia, which was one of the main models used for the U.S. Constitution.

---

If all they are doing is making sure that Thomas Jefferson is not on the list, then the smart kids are going to realize pretty soon that they're getting taught an inaccurate view of history. Because they're going to cover the Declaration of Independence.

To do a more thorough job, they should either credit it to God and have Thomas Jefferson try to take the credit or time-traveling Ronald Reagan.

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ClaudiaTherese
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Actually, I don't think it was so much a revolution as a half-Sachow jump ending in the splits. But double pointz for style, yo.
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Paul Goldner
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Anyone read anything about how texans are responding to this?
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Lalo
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They struck Thomas Jefferson from the Revolution's inspirations? I'm interested to see how the right-wing nutbags handled Thomas Paine, proud atheist. Glenn Beck even named his crappy book after Paine's.

This is really tragic, though. I definitely don't want to raise a kid in the US.

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Lyrhawn
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I'd also like to see them explain the fact that, at the very least, the French Revolution, and the domestic woman's rights movement (Seneca Falls Declaration) directly borrowed language from Jefferson's Declaration.

Maybe they won't notice if one is mentioned in World History and the other in US history, but that's pretty intellectually dishonest. As a regular person I'm extremely annoyed by this, but I feel removed since I don't live in Texas. As a historian, I'm furious. This is why parents and non-professionals should only have limited control of a school's curriculum.

I go back and forth on how I feel about indoctrinating/instilling native values in children through use of the school system. Ultimately I think I've made my peace with the fact that, overbearing though it may be, it's something all nations do, and it probably serves an important function in ensuring dedicating to the longevity of the nation. Blah blah. But something like this goes way beyond that. This is what happened at the end of that TV show Jericho. This is brainwashing children into believing not just one viewpoint on history, but a radically altered viewpoint that doesn't spin things, it just omits them entirely.

If history books look like this when I have kids, I'll be teaching them myself.

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Lisa
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The part about the US being a constitutional republic and not a democracy has merit. Since that's a common and often harmful mistake people tend to make. And I can see taking out sex and gender as social constructs, because they are not (in my opinion). But taking out Jefferson? Not teaching that the Constitution doesn't permit promoting one religion over others? Disgusting.
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Paul Goldner
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My really large problem with this is, this is Texas. They help control the text books that reach the rest of the country.

Depending what happens in the next few months, I will probably write to all the text book publishers that put out Physics Texts, and just say that as a concerned citizen, I won't be recommending any of their texts for use in my classrooms if they alter their text books to conform to Texas' history curriculum. Its a small thing, but if enough teachers around the country do something like that, Texas' purchasing power might look less important to publishers.

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Paul Goldner
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"And I can see taking out sex and gender as social constructs, because they are not (in my opinion)."

Your opinion is contradicted by the definition of "gender."

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Paul Goldner:
My really large problem with this is, this is Texas. They help control the text books that reach the rest of the country.

Depending what happens in the next few months, I will probably write to all the text book publishers that put out Physics Texts, and just say that as a concerned citizen, I won't be recommending any of their texts for use in my classrooms if they alter their text books to conform to Texas' history curriculum. Its a small thing, but if enough teachers around the country do something like that, Texas' purchasing power might look less important to publishers.

Thankfully the digital era has greatly reduced Texas' power over national text book policy. While individual districts don't wield any power, individual states can demand books tailored to their state curricula without too much of a problem, since editing and producing books that way is so much easier with current technology.

This would have been far more disastrous and impactful 20 years ago.

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Mucus
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Ah Texas, confirming stereotypes of Texans with glee and gusto.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by malanthrop:

History is determined by the victor. The right is taking control all over the nation and they are undoing the similar actions of the left.

As per usual your grasp of these things is hair-brained at best. The term is "history is *written* by the victors." History is "determined" by no one especially- it is interpreted in varying ways according quite often to what people find in it that is relevant to them.

"He that controls the present controls the past," is something you've harped on before. It makes me think rather seriously about how much that phenomenon actually bothers you, or whether you are only really bothered by *who* is in control. When you offhandedly dismiss abuses that you would rail against had your opposition undertaken them, you reveal your deep dishonesty. I know, you probably don't even realize that.


quote:

How about a history class without an agenda?

You don't actually believe that that's possible, do you? Even if there is no overtly modern political agenda attached to what a teacher talks about, understanding history requires coming to and defending conclusions about what you learn from it.

It's not even a matter of it being hard to avoid some kind of bias. The fact is that history as a discipline is all about interpretation, and the advancement of one or another theory about what we learn. That is the value of studying history, and why history and the study of it remain forever controversial.

What do you imagine, exactly? A class where the teacher recites facts for the students to absorb? Even if you have a class like that, you have to have an agenda just to decide what parts of history are relevant to your class, and which aren't? American schools focus on European and American history so much because it's relevant to them, not because it represents a large part of the world's history. That's an agenda- the continuation of the traditional focus on western culture in America. You're railing about an agenda now, but the lack of any such agenda would open the door to years of teaching African, Chinese, middle eastern, Indian and South American history that you would then rail against as being a part of a liberal cabal to minimize the importance of western culture.

You don't want *no* agenda, you just think that what you find important or worthwhile is somehow magically correct, and therefore is not itself an agenda. I don't know how many times I've heard this moronic mantra of "no agenda" and "fair and balanced" bullcrap coming out of the mouths of people who just don't understand what an agenda actually is, and what it would actually mean not to ever have one.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Lisa:
The part about the US being a constitutional republic and not a democracy has merit.

The statement "the US is a republic" is as correct as "the US is a democracy" — anytime someone says that the US is not a democracy, they're wrong. What the US is not is a direct democracy.
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Tresopax
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The University of Virginia is not going to be happy with Texas, I can tell you that....
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Foust
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quote:
What's on the main page?
You weren't curious enough to click the link? It's not NSFW, I assure you.
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Scott R
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I clicked. What is it that I was supposed to see?
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Paul Goldner:
"And I can see taking out sex and gender as social constructs, because they are not (in my opinion)."

Your opinion is contradicted by the definition of "gender."

No. No, it isn't.
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Alcon
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That there was already a thread on this topic still on the main page. But I'm fine with it, this one brings new information. Namely, that they got them passed [Frown]
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Foust
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quote:
I clicked. What is it that I was supposed to see?
Isn't this thread an obvious copy of another thread currently on the main page? Why split the discussion up? And... I'm surprised it wasn't obvious that I meant to point this out.
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Raventhief
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by Lisa:
The part about the US being a constitutional republic and not a democracy has merit.

The statement "the US is a republic" is as correct as "the US is a democracy" — anytime someone says that the US is not a democracy, they're wrong. What the US is not is a direct democracy.
Samp, could you clarify? Because a democracy is a form of government in which the people legislate directly by vote while a republic is a form of government in which the people elect those who legislate. And we elect people to govern us, so I'm pretty sure we're a republic. Some states do put laws on ballots, but those are state issues, not federal. Thus I feel the only honest thing to say about the country as a whole is "we're a republic with strong democratic traditions."
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Raventhief:
Samp, could you clarify? Because a democracy is a form of government in which the people legislate directly by vote while a republic is a form of government in which the people elect those who legislate.

You are confusing the general term "democracy" with the specific type of government known as a "direct democracy." You do not have to be a direct democracy in order to be considered a "democracy" or a "democratic nation."

The answer to the question "Is the united states a democracy?" is yes.

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Scott R
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quote:
Originally posted by Foust:
quote:
I clicked. What is it that I was supposed to see?
Isn't this thread an obvious copy of another thread currently on the main page? Why split the discussion up? And... I'm surprised it wasn't obvious that I meant to point this out.
Aha!
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Belle
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Well, while I don't know about striking Jefferson from the list of people who inspired it, I do know that Calvin probably SHOULD be included. I remember when I took a class in college in early American history I was shocked to read so much about Calvin and his political writings...having before only thought of him as relates to his religious views. So, I oviously wasn't taught about it in high school, but it was certainly worth considering the impact that Calvin had. His ideas about government and the duties of the Civil government can certainly be seen in our Constitution. He decried monarchy in his writings, believed government was safer in the hands of many rather than one or few, stressed education and believed in liberty and the right of men to be equal and free.

Here is a quote from his Institutes:
quote:
The vice or imperfection of men therefore renders it safer and more tolerable for the government to be in the hands of many, that they may afford each other mutual assistance and admonition, and that if any one arrogate to himself more than is right, the many may act as censors and masters to restrain his ambition.
I find it interesting that his religious beliefs follow into his beliefs about government, that the reason one person can't be relied upon to govern many others is because of man's fallen nature.

So yes, there is no doubt Calvin's writings are part of the recipe that led ultimately to the American Revolution.

I'll ask the ridiculously obvious question - why not add references to Calvin rather than replacing Jefferson?

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Raventhief
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Samp, so what's a republic, then?
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MrSquicky
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Raventhief,
That's an interesting question that I think is still very well dealt with in Federalist #10.

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MrSquicky
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quote:
I'll ask the ridiculously obvious question - why not add references to Calvin rather than replacing Jefferson?
Belle,
I think you are giving these conservative Christians more credit than is their due. They're removing Jefferson because he says things they don't like and they care more about that than the truth.

The way it is presented, as replacing Jefferson with Calvin, it sounds like they may want to emphasize Calvin's instruction for Christians to force Christianity on their country.

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Mucus
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On the bright side, replacing the Thomas Jefferson Monument with the Calvin Monument is a bit better than replacing it with an ape from some planet.
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TomDavidson
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I dunno. Depending on the ape.
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Foust
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quote:
The way it is presented, as replacing Jefferson with Calvin, it sounds like they may want to emphasize Calvin's instruction for Christians to force Christianity on their country.
This is exactly correct. There is certainly a place for John Calvin in America's intellectual history, but it is hardly vital enough to appear on an elementary or high school curriculum. If you insist on going back into history for non-American sources, it makes far more sense to talk about John Locke.
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MrSquicky
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I think Calvin had a pretty big influence on the American Revolution, although I'd argue that it is indirect and rather convoluted and I wouldn't use his writings as the primary source of influence.

As Foust said, in terms of writings and theories of government, Locke was much, much more influential.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Raventhief:
Samp, so what's a republic, then?

In most usages, another term for a representative democracy.

The United States is a republic. The United States is a democracy. Kind of in the same way my corolla is both a 'car' and an 'automobile.'

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Raventhief
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Well, Squicky's link makes me even more convinced of the US' republican nature rather than democratic. Until someone tells me what a republic is which is not what the US is, I remain obstinately convinced.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Raventhief:
Well, Squicky's link makes me even more convinced of the US' republican nature rather than democratic. Until someone tells me what a republic is which is not what the US is, I remain obstinately convinced.

This is like saying "I am obstinately convinced that my corolla is an automobile and NOT a car."
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Raventhief
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Samp, I see...
That feels unsatisfying, somehow. Probably me just being all narrow.
If that's the case, then (back to the original aim of this thread) what's the big deal with the BoE calling the US a constitutional republic? Wouldn't that mean "constitutional, representative democracy"?

Add: Samp my previous post was before I saw your response, sorry.

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Belle
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I'd agree with Locke as well. Though, to be honest, are the philosophical underpinnings of the Revolution really that comprehensible to 10th graders? Maybe its proper place is in post-secondary study after all.

(Note: in Alabama early American History is studied in 10th grade...it might be different in Texas or other states)

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Raventhief:
Samp, I see...
That feels unsatisfying, somehow. Probably me just being all narrow.
If that's the case, then (back to the original aim of this thread) what's the big deal with the BoE calling the US a constitutional republic? Wouldn't that mean "constitutional, representative democracy"?

To me there is no big deal with that AT ALL. The only thing I correct (and the only reason I jumped in hyar) is when people make the point (or even more frequently, defend ideas BASED on the point) that the United States is "A republic, not a democracy."
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MrSquicky
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To really understand the situation in England, Europe, and the U.S. during that time, you'd need to address Calvin. He's tremendously influential in so many ways.

But, I'd agree that, for most students, that'd be more for post-secondary. I'd count it as a win if we could adequately teach the Enlightenment in high school and that's the most obvious and biggest theoretical influence on the American Revolution.

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MrSquicky
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One of the big ideas in the Federalist papers (especially #10) is balancing the need for representation with the problems that come along with having too many people trying to make decisions.

Really, I'd love to a capitulation of the Federalist/Anti-Federalist papers as a major part of high school American history.

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