The political culture of America is in crisis.
Competing and simplified narratives of history create entrenched political tribes. This hyper-partisanship and a generally weak understanding of democracy are affecting our ability to solve problems for our community.
#1: CHANGEMAKERS NEEDED
Massive education efforts are focused on developing STEM skills to ensure that people can find work in the economy of the future. But we are neglecting the fact that the future will still require people who understand the potential and the pitfalls of humanity. Democracy will die if we do not have citizens who can build a society together, for the benefit of all.
#2: WE ARE DELIVERING UNHEALTHY HISTORY
History can deliver all sorts of skills, mindsets and abilities that we need as changemakers: a sense of belonging, empathy for others, an understanding of context and a narrative of community. But for most people, it doesn’t. History in schools and museums is usually presented as mountains of facts and canned narratives. It is experienced by most as boring and disempowering, while a select few find in it a source of inspiration to lead.
#3: FRAGMENTED AND SILOED CHANGE EFFORTS
There are amazing teachers, journalists, actors, museum directors, librarians, parents, kids and grandparents bringing history to life in new ways across the country. Historians have made efforts to organize within their associations. But there has been no effort to expand the overall market for history, or to galvanize a campaign to elevate history for the future of democracy. This has led to a rapid decline in the value attributed to the teaching of and engagement with history.