The Elf writes:
History was not taught well in US schools back in the 1940's and 50's. It was memorizing boring statistics: who fought what battle in year X, or what year was America colonized by whom? (Actually, America's real history was totally ignored: one would have thought that between Columbus in 1492 and the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock in present-day Massachusetts in 1620, nothing at all happened. Never mind that the Dutch were busy colonizing New Amsterdam (New York,) the Spanish had claimed Florida, and the French were sailing back and forth between their Caribbean colonies and the Mississippi River, with a lively fur trade. (The fact that those Pilgrims were greeted by a Native American [formerly called "Indians"]speaking perfect London-flavored English seemed to have escaped all the writers of history textbooks.) Papa Elf only learned a lot of it recently via a history series on TV. Who knew that some Native Americans were more advanced than the average European peasant?
In college, I finally had a teacher who got it right: he pointed out that nothing happened in a vacuum: while this historical even was happening, the people over here were more concerned with that event. His exams were along the lines of: if event X had not occurred, what would your life be like today? or: why do you think Event Y occurred at all? He made you think.