The Founding Fathers: “Just a Bunch of Whiners”?

My son in high school told me tonight that his U.S. History teacher has been telling the class that the Founding Fathers were just a bunch of whiners, always complaining about taxes. I’m finding this derogatory treatment of the inspired founders of this nation to be increasingly common in our public schools. Any suggestions on how to help teachers with that mindset to better understand the topic they claim to be teaching? Can anything be done?


Author: Jeff Lindsay

22 thoughts on “The Founding Fathers: “Just a Bunch of Whiners”?

  1. Being negative is often considered a good way to keep an audience.

    Sometimes you need to remind teachers that they are “off base”. You also need to remember what teachers and the NEA think of taxation.

    Talk to the teachers. Do not try to squeeze your complaint into a 5 minute parent/teacher conference.

    Be structured and prepared. And be prepared to go to the next step if the teacher blows you off.

    And—-was not taxation by England one of the reasons for the revolution?

  2. Yikes, Jeff
    this sounds like a history teacher who doesn’t like history. I would definatly talk to them and if the teacher doesn’t want to talk, always reserve the right to talk to the principal. Keep in mind that teachers are public servants and your tax dollars are paying their salaries. This does not give you the right to dictate how they do their job, but within reason they should respect boundries when concern is voiced. In the private sector employees of corporations should likewise be mindful of what the board or directors or stockholders want.

  3. Well…I suppose in some ways the Founding Fathers were a bunch of whiners but they were so much more.

    I am sure that the teacher also related other information to the students.

    By saying that the founding fathers were whiners would certainly catch the students attention since most of them (the students) can be in the whining phase of life.

    It brings a connection to the people being discussed and in the end, what is wrong with that?

  4. May I ask what you mean by “inspired fathers”? I’m involved in theology so much, that word carries particular meaning. I just want to be sure of your intention there. Thanks.

  5. explains that whinners are ones who complain in a childish fashion. I’d probably point out that whinners don’t act.

    The founding fathers did more than complain. They organized a revolution that lead to the rise of a great Nation. They issued logical and reasonable complaints and followed their conscience when they continued to be oppressed.

  6. Jeff, Teenagers often don’t see sarcasm when it’s practiced by adults. It may have not have been meant to be derogatory.

  7. Why do you seem to live your life believing that it is your mission and right to tell every else on the planet how to live?

  8. Anon,
    Why do you read this blog if you feel this way? If you don’t, would Jeff show up at your door and tell you how to live?

    Sorry for the sarcasm, but I’ve been reading here for a while and have never felt that way. Are you sure it’s not that you just don’t agree what Jeff has to say? You don’t have to, but remember, a blog won’t bother you if you don’t read it.

  9. I heard similar arguments in my high school history classes. Not only did my teachers tell us that the colonists were whiners about taxation, they also insisted that the American Civil War wasn’t really about slavery. It seems like they just wanted to argue against the obvious reasons just to be inventive. And while their other reasons were undoubtedly factors in the complicated events leading up to the two wars, I was entirely convinced. Particularly in the case of slavery and the Civil War — agrarian/industrial societal conflicts and cultural differences seem like issues that the country could compromise on; slavery was not. Inventive teaching may catch the students’ attentions but it won’t educate them if it’s largely misleading.

  10. I may be wrong – and I hope I am – about this guy, but it seems to me that this is the same type of revisionist teaching that declares that Columbus was nothing more than an opportunist and an Indian-killer. Fortunately, the Book of Mormon says otherwise…

  11. I would be vary wary about using the Columbus argument. We need not be polemical about our views on Columbus. Indeed, to assume that a man must be a saint (or even nice) to be inspired is setting ourselves up for disappointment. Columbusd did practice slavery. While he should signs of godliness, he also had his flashes of not-so-nice guyishness.

    As to the founding fathers question, I would guess that the teacher just wants to engage the students. If you begin to see a pattern of behavior, I would suggest that before you accuse the teacher of being a revisionist historian that you read some good monographs on the subject (if you haven’t done so already). Perhaps “The Radicalism of the American Revolution” by Gordon Wood or Bernard Bailyn’s “The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution”

  12. Peter,

    The war of Northern agression was NOT about slavery…

    “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause.” The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume V, “Letter to Horace Greeley” (August 22, 1862), p. 388.

  13. Revisionist historian? I really dislike that term. It is good that we have people like Howard Zinn who wrote “A People’s History of the United States”. We get the story that is presented in a different way than the way the rich and elite wrote it. Which text book ever noted that Columbus initiated events in Hispaniola that ended in the deaths of 250,000 natives in 50 years? There is a lot to be learned from “revisionist historians”. It’s important to get this side of the story so the student can make the informed decision instead of following blindly the prevailing teachings of texts.
    I’ve noticed that school texts tend to present information on wars for example, not to cause the student to think for himself, but to stir up patriotic sentiments in our youth and to present our conflicts as having been noble, righteous etc. I’m glad to be able to teach children to look at things in a different light and cause them to have doubt in the garbage they are fed from the texts sometimes.

  14. The mere fact that we need “revisionist historians” (so-called, though my belief is that every good historian is to a degree revisionist) is a sad commentary on the state of the historical field. But alas, we live in an era of ideologies and discerning the truth requires an ability to balance extremes. Either Columbus was a villain or he was a saint. Jefferson was either a licentious slaveholder or brillian mind. Never mind that they could perhaps be both and that the task is to see how these attributes cohabitate.

    While most people are not history junkies, reading primary documents is not a bad thing. Call me old-fashioned or naive (I’ve been called both), but why don’t we attempt to learn history as it ACTUALLY HAPPENED, in all of its complexity and messiness. There’s my rant. Thanks for listening

  15. I’d ask the teacher if they thought Martin Luther King was a whiner. Or how about Israel at the Nuremberg trials, were they just being whiners?

    Or how about teacher’s unions when they strike for more money, even though they only work six hours a day, nine months a year with all the holidays, and weekends off, not to mention all the “teacher work days”, but still make the same amount as the rest of us working a lot more hours and days. Is that whining?

  16. You obviously don’t know a thing about teachers and the workload. My spouse puts in regular 10 hour days *AT THE SCHOOL* working on her assigned tasks (no pay past 8 hours) as well as the State mandated accountability (no additional pay for accountability meetings and web updates with minutes, and …; you can get the picture). Book fairs (raising money for the library because of State/county budget “shortfalls”) are run 3 times a year, 4 days at a time, and are on top of the normal schedule by 3-5 hours per day (no additional pay). Teacher work days ARE for working. Summers are not taken off (fully at least). And they do it willingly for the children. Because it is important. Don’t group teachers, just as you would not wish to be grouped with some of the unsavory Christian groups around. Absolutes about people or groups demean both them and yourself.

  17. Excellent idea! Teachers are easy targets. Just part of the system to brainwash the kids, right? Just part of “the man’s” system for oppression, isn’t it? Better idea: every parent educate their own child. Never mind that most parents aren’t experts in physics, calculus, history, astronomy, chemistry, trigonometry, etc.

    And in my home state, first-year teachers make A LITTLE more than full time McDonald’s employees, the dirty bourgeoisie they are.

  18. I think my comment shall be a little more enlightening, based on the fact that I am currently a student who is facing this exact problem in my U.S. History class. It had been told all this past week that the constitution was not written because “God pointed his finger and put ideas in their heads” and BAM! out came this amazing document. I agree with that part of it, but not in whole.

    Instead, our teaches tells us that the Constitution was written primarily to keep the rich families of America rich. It made sense- stuff Hamilton did in the proceeding years, and etc, but I hardly agreed with it. Turns out a lot of people didn’t. However, I was one of two in my class who were not going to choose black and white. Because it never is.

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout history classes it’s to not trust anything, and that nothing is black and white. Yeah, the founding fathers were a bit whiny. Yeah, maybe some of the constitution was written to keep the rich rich, and most definitly the Lord had some part in inspiring the Founding Fathers. It’s not a perfect document by any means, but it is the best of its kind.

    Schools can’t be expected to teach history with exactness because there is little exactness in history. Conflicting reports, biases, lack of evidence all play in to making history essentially a big jumble of events that people can argue for days.

  19. “I’m finding this derogatory treatment of the inspired founders of this nation to be increasingly common in our public schools.”
    Best thing to do about this problem Jeff is march down to the school and show the teacher how you feel. Prove to him that the founders were inspired and tell him you do not approve of him calling them whiners. Any inaction on your part would be a sin of omission. Make sure to take all the documents with you to show how they were inspired by God. That should shut him right up.

  20. None of us can tell what the teacher was thinking when saying that the founding fathers were whiners. A parent/teacher conference would be in order, just to find out.
    I am aware of a tendency to “anti-white male wash” American history. While removing most women and people of other ethnicities is reprehesible, it is equally reprehensible to throw away the good acts of those who had European extraction and were male.
    I have had to talk to my children about the eternal conseqences of actions that their history and social studies teachers are appearing to promote.
    My kids came home telling me that it was okay for a guard in a Nazi death camp to abuse and kill a child, because if he didn’t, he would be killed and the child would die anyway.
    The importance of individual accountability is ignored in the day of situational ethics.

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