Our favorite war

I occasionally hear parents complain that their elementary school children have ended up studying dinosaurs for several years in a row. A few grades go by and suddenly it seems like the only specialized knowledge their child has picked up is how to tell a Pachycephalosaurus from a Pentaceratops. As for teachers, they know that kids love studying dinosaurs. Why risk a unit on the great rivers of the world when there is a crowd-pleaser like T-Rex?

When it comes to learning history, World War II is the equivalent of Jurassic Park. British academics routinely complain that students come to university having studied the Allied victory over the Axis powers several times over—and little else. Likewise, in the U.S., the chairs of history departments have been known to observe that the only surefire way to boost student enrollment is to offer a course on World War II.


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