June 24, 2008

Department of Unfathomable Nostalgia

From the young (or at least ahistorically minded) Fordham Foundation staffer Liam Julian comes this too-credulous reporting:

[A] Douglass High School alumnus called in [to a radio show] to say that when he was enrolled, in the early 1970s, bad behavior and teen pregnancy were actively stigmatized.

Hmmn... maybe this alumnus was thinking just of Baltimore's Frederick Douglass High School, but weren't the early 1970s a time when everyone was complaining about the misbehavior and immorality of youth? This was in the middle of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, at the peak of clamor about school disruptions let alone the 1960s counterculture (which lasted a few years into the 1970s), and the time when George Carlin was getting in trouble for speaking seven words.

Update (6/25): Julian responds: the caller in question referred only to Douglass High School, and his claim that Douglass was a far better school in the early 70s than it is today seems to be corroborated by the HBO documentary. I'll accept that at face value in the "almost anything was better than what happened in this recent year, in this school" sense. (Since I don't have a television, I can't see documentaries when they air.) I'll stay skeptical about memory and nostalgia for the early 1970s; for more on nostalgia and oral history, see my colleague Barbara Shircliffe's "We Got the Best of That World": A Case for the Study of Nostalgia in the Oral History of School Segregation, Oral History Review 28 (2001) ($JSTOR).

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Posted in Education policy on June 24, 2008 7:22 PM |