Post-modernists say that history is unknowable. They also say that only a member of a tribe can teach that tribe's history. For example, only a black person can teach black history. Does this not seem strange? If history is really unknowable except to those that live it, why should a contemporary black person be any more qualified to teach African-American history than anyone else?
One big problem this attitude causes is a demand that cannot be met. Perhaps at elite institutions where these ideas originate, there is no problem with the supply being greater than the demand. However that is not the case across the nation. When I was in college the history department needed a new history teacher and set out to find a black person. That was the stated goal. The university I attended was medium-sized and located in the Midwest/Great Plains overlap. Of the few qualified black candidates, none would come to our university. They had better offers of more money and perks at more prestigious locations, with more black students. The university ended up hiring a white man with a specialty in Civil War and Reconstruction. When he taught a class on black history, many blacks on campus were upset. They had been led to have certain expectations, which were unable to be filled. Is that a healthy situation? Black history interests me, I don't know why, but with a little study I could teach it as easily as I could teach any other history.
Are only Christians allowed to teach Christian history? I am quite sure that is not the case. In fact I think only Christians should be able to teach European history between Charlemagne and the 1700s. If that were to happen, we would get some corrected perspectives on the Middle Ages. Problems arise with the Great Schism and the Reformation. Would it have to be team taught? One Roman Catholic and one Protestant and one Greek Orthodox? But which Protestant denomination? Lutherans or Calvinists? Would Anabaptists get a say? The point is that history is not captive to any one group. The fact is, I personally have less in common with ancient Mediterraneans than with 20th century African-Americans. Yet, no one would have a second thought if I were to teach on Greek history. Such an odd situation we have with this postmodern paradox.
Education, Public Schools, Postmodernism, African-American history, Teachers