Education Matters: Learning from the past

December 10, 2010|By Dan Kimber

Editor's Note: Numerous instances of plagiarism have been discovered in Dan Kimber’s “Education Matters” column, which ran in the News- Press from September 2003 to September 2011. In those columns where plagiarism has been found, a For the Record specifying the details will be appended to the piece.

Next year on Dec. 7, it will be 70 years since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

I remember first studying about it in high school and then again in my second year of college. In terms of the aftermath of that attack, there was one significant difference in the two versions. Nowhere in the high school texts that I studied or in any class discussions I was part of was the subject of Japanese relocation raised. I first learned of that bit of American history in a survey course in college.

When I brought this up to my father, who fought in World War II, his first reaction was, "You weren't alive then. You don't know how it was."


I couldn't argue with that, but I did with what followed and often got thrown into our discussions.

"__________, I knew that they'd fill your head with left-wing ________ in college," my dad would thunder away.

That began a lively, sometimes heated dialogue between me and someone who I dearly loved and respected but whose views I no longer automatically accepted. I think he was right about college changing me, but not in the way he had supposed.

He was convinced that higher education was more about indoctrination than education, and that I was a victim. I contended that I was just beginning to think for myself. It was a difference that was likely expressed in many households in the 1960s with its growing generation gap, and more and more young people asking more and more questions.

Back then, our argument was about the rightness or wrongness of the decision to imprison more than 100,000 Japanese in this country. That discussion will likely occupy space in textbooks for all time, which I believe is a good thing.

The greater question that remains with me is why textbooks 20 years after Pearl Harbor were largely silent on the issue of Japanese relocation camps. Today, with the possible exception of Texas, virtually all state textbooks examine the issue in depth.

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