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Do Americans misunderstand the Founding Fathers?
David McCullough is called the "citizen chronicler" by Librarian of Congress James Billington. His books have led a renaissance of interest in American history--from learning about a flood in Pennsylvania that without warning devastated an entire community to discovering the private achievements and frailties of an uncelebrated president. His biography of Harry Truman won him a Pulitzer, as did his most recent biography of another president, John Adams.
Meeting Thornton Wilder at Yale as an undergraduate inspired McCullough to become a writer--his first love, in fact, had been art. While at college he also met his wife, Rosalee. He learned his craft working at Sports Illustrated, at the United States Information Agency, and at American Heritage. McCullough researched and wrote his first book in the precious hours away from his job with American Heritage; The Johnstown Flood came out in 1968. It was a story and region familiar to McCullough, who was born and raised in nearby Pittsburgh. The book was a success and he became a full-time author.
Since then, McCullough has given us six more books--The Great Bridge, The Path between the Seas, Mornings on Horseback, Brave Companions, Truman, and John Adams--earning him two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Book Awards, and two Francis Parkman Prizes from the American Society of Historians. His other honors include a Charles Frankel Prize, a National Book Foundation Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Award, and a New York Public Library’s Literary Lion Award.
David McCullough: Well sad to say we are raising and have been raising for about 25 years one generation after another of young Americans who are by and large historically illiterate. Now it isn’t their faults we can’t blame young people in high school or college for not knowing what they haven't been taught. It’s the fault of their parents follow lot of us, teachers-parents and the culture. History is of the utmost importance, I think its probably more important than any other one single subject because its about the human experience, its about life and consequences of ones actions and its about the role of personality of character in events passed, and we can learn from it, we can learn infinite number of lessons from history and we can also take strength from it, we could be guided by in our own performance, in our own contributions, by the examples of those who went before us and the founders alas have been rather forgotten in part I think because they appear in no photographs. We have no photographs of them, we have no film clips of them, we have no recordings of their voices, we have no television out takes. All we had is what they wrote and some paintings and a last two the close they were make them seem like characters in the costume pageant which they want, and they were not they weren’t walking around seeing themselves as living in the past, that Jefferson Adams they didn’t say isn’t this fascinating looming the past, we picture asking her we had close they are living in the present and they had no more idea of how was going to turn out than we do, and they were extraordinary people, brilliant people and how it happened nobody could explain it completely, that a small population, we are only 2 million 500 thousand people. Philadelphia in 1776 the largest city in the country had only 30,000 people, now that would be a little town of no consequence to us, but out of that small population came these talented, brilliant, committed people who were willing as they said to put their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor on the line, if you signed the declaration of independence of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin you are putting your head in the nudes, because you are saying I am a traitor and if they have been caught, they would have been hanged, and they were doing it for the future of the country. They were not doing it for themselves to get richer and to be powerful. They were doing it because they believed to the marrow of their bones in what they call the glorious cause of the America and we cannot know enough about them, we cannot know enough about what happened and what cost and what suffering, we cannot know about the injustices that had to be cured in this scholar of life, that had to be eliminated if possible. The contradictions, the hypocrisies, all men are created equal written by a man who owned slaves, who held men, women and children in bondage. So it wasn’t just they where imperfect, but what they had created was imperfect and they knew it, what they were doing for us was to create a plan, an adjective a start and steer by that we must strive for each generation successively to live up to the idea and that’s our strength, it would all been handled to us in perfect order, perfect running machine, it doesn’t need any attention, it’s all oil run in perpetuity, sit back and enjoyed everybody we wouldn’t be there in the country we are where the country we are because each of us has to take the torch and try and carry us a little bit closer to the ideal.
Recorded on: 3/3/08
We are raising a generation of historically illiterate Americans, McCullough says.
Educators and administrators must build new supports for faculty and student success in a world where the classroom might become virtual in the blink of an eye.
- If you or someone you know is attending school remotely, you are more than likely learning through emergency remote instruction, which is not the same as online learning, write Rich DeMillo and Steve Harmon.
- Education institutions must properly define and understand the difference between a course that is designed from inception to be taught in an online format and a course that has been rapidly converted to be offered to remote students.
- In a future involving more online instruction than any of us ever imagined, it will be crucial to meticulously design factors like learner navigation, interactive recordings, feedback loops, exams and office hours in order to maximize learning potential within the virtual environment.
Placing science and religion at opposite ends of the belief spectrum is to ignore their unique purposes.
- Science and religion (fact versus faith) are often seen as two incongruous groups. When you consider the purpose of each and the questions that they seek to answer, the comparison becomes less black and white.
- This video features religious scholars, a primatologist, a neuroendocrinologist, a comedian, and other brilliant minds considering, among other things, the evolutionary function that religion serves, the power of symbols, and the human need to learn, explore, and know the world around us so that it becomes a less scary place.
- "I think most people are actually kind of comfortable with the idea that science is a reliable way to learn about nature, but it's not the whole story and there's a place also for religion, for faith, for theology, for philosophy," says Francis Collins, American geneticist and director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "But that harmony perspective doesn't get as much attention. Nobody is as interested in harmony as they are in conflict."
Studying voice recordings of infected but asymptomatic people reveals potential indicators of Covid-19.
A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.
- A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
- Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
- The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
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A study finds people are more influenced by what the other party says than their own. What gives?
- A new study has found evidence suggesting that conservative climate skepticism is driven by reactions to liberal support for science.
- This was determined both by comparing polling data to records of cues given by leaders, and through a survey.
- The findings could lead to new methods of influencing public opinion.