Patterico's Pontifications

11/7/2005

Pop Quiz: Compete with the Harvard History Professor

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:51 pm

Quick: who said this?

Give me liberty or give me death!

Answer in the extended entry.

[extended entry]

Why do I ask? Well, someone named Niall Ferguson has an op-ed in this morning’s L.A. Times, which says:

Longtime Americans take for granted the language and civics tests that would-be Americans have to take. But they’re not easy. One question in the official “Guide to Naturalization” is: “Who said, ‘Give me liberty or give me death?’ ” I had no idea it was Patrick Henry.

Did you?

At the end of the piece there is a short description of the author of the piece:

Niall Ferguson is a professor of history at Harvard University, and a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Ah, those infallible Harvard guys.

P.S. I know, I know . . . he’s probably a Brit. But what if I’d given you this quote instead:

[W]e shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender . . .

See? And you’re not even a professor of history at Harvard University!

26 Responses to “Pop Quiz: Compete with the Harvard History Professor”

  1. Oh, give him a break, willya? He obviously went to the public schools!

    Dana R. Pico (a9eb8b)

  2. I asked my college freshman son to answer your “Who said it” quotes and he was 2-for-2. Does that mean he can teach at Harvard next year?

    DRJ (15ed57)

  3. So, what _textbook_ should be used to teach a year long high school history class?

    The Seattle Public Schools use books by Howard Zinn, so I know what to avoid…

    Al (00c56b)

  4. This is so amazing. I knew that history was being taugh less and less in this country, but a Harvard professor? I’m glad I saved money by going to SF State.

    Stacy (e5478a)

  5. “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me,….”

    Henriet Cousin (ca8dc4)

  6. The guy is from Britain.

    But I doubt your typical 18 year old today
    knows this either.

    What my niece learned about American history is that the white people killed all of the “Native Americans” — every last one of them, as she now believes.

    She also learned alot about slavery — beyond that who can guess? The history of American male oppression over women?

    PrestoPundit (c8886f)

  7. My daughter’s government textbook states that the function of government is to provide good and services to the people.
    Her professor told her that property rights are elitist.
    Several weeks into the course three fellow students came up to my daughter and asked her to explain to them the three branches of government and their function, as it wasn’t covered in the book, and the teacher included it in the syllabus as required for the test, but hadn’t ever explained it in class.
    It’s rather frightening to think of these people as our future.

    DeputyHeadmistress (e71725)

  8. To be fair, it isn’t at all uncommon for historians to be so specialized that they aren’t aware of much outside of their realm of specialization. Ferguson’s area of specialization is not eighteenth century US history, and he isn’t an American by birth, which means it’s entirely likely this isn’t something his childhood school discussed at all.

    aphrael (e7c761)

  9. Give me liberty, or give me Barbara E. Kerr, President of the California Teachers Association.

    The election Tuesday will be close, and your vote counts extra because it’s raining in NorCal, meaning a low turnout. The Governor really needs these to pass:
    74 – Teacher Tenure
    75 – Political use of Union Dues
    76 – Spending Limit
    77 – Redistricting

    Shredstar (532850)

  10. Churchill!

    And yes I knew the Patrick Henry quote. We used to have to learn those things.

    Library Lady (53290c)

  11. To be fair, it isn’t at all uncommon for historians to be so specialized that they aren’t aware of much outside of their realm of specialization. Ferguson’s area of specialization is not eighteenth century US history, and he isn’t an American by birth, which means it’s entirely likely this isn’t something his childhood school discussed at all.

    To be fair, I anticipated and addressed this objection in the post.

    It’s not my area of specialization either — nor is British WWII history. I am not not even a Harvard history professor, or a history professor anywhere else, or even a history major.

    Patterico (4e4b70)

  12. May I have the attention, please, of public school bashers?

    Bash your own local school, if you must (better yet, get on the school board and fix the curriculum), but don’t tar the whole system with the same brush.

    I teach American lit in a public school (10th grade). One of the units is The Revolutionary Period, and my students read and listen to Henry’s entire Speech to the Virginia Convention (the last line of which is the famous quote). They also read The Declaration of Independence (the drafts and final revision) and selections from Thomas Paine’s The Crisis.

    I passionately believe that literature must be taught in its historic context, and I despise “adolescent” literature because teenagers don’t me to teach them angst; they need me to teach them their heritage, and I do.

    goddessoftheclassroom (7331f8)

  13. Patterico:

    (I’m in Hawaii, and I’m blogging. Worse — writing comments on someone else’s blog. Am I infectious?)

    I forget where I heard this one:

    ‘We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills –‘

    ‘I say, Winnie, old shoe… have we considered fighting them in Germany?’

    Dafydd

    Dafydd (3095fc)

  14. Your amazement stems from the quite incorrect assumption that professors of history at Havard University are hired for their knowledge of, and ability to teach, history.

    You obviously haven’t been paying much attention.

    Professors of history at Havard University are hired and rewarded on the basis of the depth of their expressions of contempt for everything that is America.

    “Give me liberty or give me death?” Hell, if you said this at Havard today, they’d just go ahead and shoot you.

    RightNumberOne (11dd90)

  15. My favorite Patrick Henry Quote.
    Possibly his bravest.
    Source: Bartlett’s Quotations.

    Cæsar had his Brutus; Charles the First, his Cromwell; and George the Third [“Treason!” cried the Speaker]—may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it.
    ATTRIBUTION: Speech in the Virginia Convention, 1765.

    Paul Albers (7494b1)

  16. To goddessoftheclassroom:

    Where do you teach? Many would move to your district if they could. Unfortunately, I do feel your gift to your students is the exception, not the norm. (My sons have gone to the top magnet school in Philadelphia, and I have not been impressed).

    MD in Philly (b3202e)

  17. DRJ (Comment #2) –

    Actually, I think it means he canNOT teach at Harvard.

    jim (6482d8)

  18. goddess, good for you, and especially for your students. Kids won’t be inspired or even interested by dumbed down history, but the real thing will do both. Do they read these things aloud, in class? Other things that should be required reading, aloud, in every American history class: the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln’s second innaugural address, MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, also his I Have a Dream Speech, Robert H. Jackson’s opinion for the Supreme Court in W.Va Board of Ed. v. Burnette (the second flag salute case, 1943. This list could go on for quite a while, I suppose.

    TNugent (6128b4)

  19. In a version of the same column that appeared in hte UK papers on Sunday Ferguson did point out that his application for US citizenship was going through the US system.

    But about the Churchill quote? The best part is that every word he uses, every single one, is actually from Anglo-Saxon roots. Not a scrap of romance languages in there.

    Except surrender of course, which is a French concept.

    Tim Worstall (80f419)

  20. Was that Churchill? I had no idea! :)

    Patterico (4e4b70)

  21. goddess:

    I despise “adolescent” literature because teenagers don’t me to teach them angst; they need me to teach them their heritage, and I do.

    A-friggin-men. Would it take another revolution to bring primary sources back into the classroom (other than yours)? Might be worth it…

    biwah (f5ca22)

  22. “Your amazement stems from the quite incorrect assumption that professors of history at Havard University are hired for their knowledge of, and ability to teach, history.”

    More they’re hired for their ability to publish history. I don’t think harvard hires on teaching ability.

    actus (c9e62e)

  23. By Harvard’s exalted standards

    Quoth a professor of history (þPatterico) from Harvard University:
    Longtime Americans take for granted the language and civics tests that would-be Americans have to take. But they’re not easy. One question in the official “Guide to Naturaliza…

    Banana Oil! (6425bf)

  24. I knew both of those, but I didn’t learn them from school. I learned them by reading books as a child.

    Quick, who said this: “These are the times that try men’s souls.”

    And: “We must all hang together or we shall hang separately.”

    By the way did anyone have those cool Cornerstones of Freedom books as a child? I still have my entire collection, more than a hundred. Are those still on the market?

    steve M. (b194b6)

  25. Jim #17 –

    Good one.

    DRJ (15ed57)


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