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Grant Calder
Grant Calder teaches history and is a college counselor at Friends' Central School in suburban Philadelphia.

Entries by Grant Calder

Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Humanities: How WWI Settled an Earlier Argument About the Value of a Liberal Arts Education

(12) Comments | Posted May 9, 2014 | 5:49 PM

Is the traditional, liberal arts college degree impractical and outdated? Are the humanities still relevant?

We have had this debate before, and the fact that it has resurfaced now is not only a result of the unsustainable increases in the cost of higher education. Periods of rapid technological and social...

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They Still Don't Know Much About History

(0) Comments | Posted January 28, 2014 | 9:15 PM

Microphone in hand, late night host Jay Leno asks a young person he meets on the street to name the first president. "Benjamin Franklin?" is the uncertain answer. "Do you know who gave the Gettysburg Address?" he quizzes another. "Uh," she says, "I can't remember the name of the actor."...

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Long Before King, 'Letters From a Man of Colour'

(8) Comments | Posted September 26, 2013 | 4:03 PM

Anniversaries of historical events, such as last month's observance of the 1963 March on Washington, get us thinking about the past and present. They prod us to reflect on the choices we make, the values we espouse, the dreams that have been realized, and the ones that have not. As...

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Before the Rankings: Learning About the History of Our Colleges

(0) Comments | Posted May 5, 2013 | 2:01 PM

Henry Ford said, "History is more or less bunk." Most adults, not to mention high school students, probably agree. Getting excited about the Civil War, for example, or the industrial revolution can be a challenge, particularly for teenagers.

Since American history is generally a requirement for graduation why not take...

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Charitable Giving: A Great American Tradition

(0) Comments | Posted December 22, 2012 | 2:49 PM

Before raising his glass the ambassador said, in the realm of culture and traditions, Europeans tend to think they have little to learn from Americans, but they are wrong. When it comes to private support for public causes, you are our role models. This toast was offered years ago at...

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Parenting and the Electoral System

(2) Comments | Posted November 14, 2012 | 11:38 AM

Phew! Luckily, the electoral vote winner this time around was also the biggest popular vote getter. No matter how many times I explain it to them, my kids can't seem to grasp that the people's choice in the world's oldest democracy is not necessarily the one who assumes the country's...

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Growing Up to Be President

(2) Comments | Posted October 7, 2012 | 1:42 PM

"Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be president, but they don't want them to become politicians in the process." The second part of John F. Kennedy's observation probably still holds true. But does anyone talk to kids these days about growing up to be president?

Among my...

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Protecting the President: "My Bodyguard I Desire to Be the People"

(0) Comments | Posted April 9, 2012 | 3:56 PM

Being assigned a Secret Service code name and a detail to go with it suggests you've hit the big time. These days this special club includes not just the president, his family and a number of the people who work closely with him; even candidates for the job get coverage....

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At 'Big Tent' Politics, Lincoln Was the Best

(0) Comments | Posted April 2, 2012 | 2:42 PM

Mitt Romney's travails in the Republican primaries and President Obama's constant sparring with Congress have helped my students appreciate how hard it is to stick to your guns if you're trying to lead either of the two main political parties. Succeeding at "big tent" politics requires a sense of timing...

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Colleges Seeking Good Students and Willing to Make Deals

(0) Comments | Posted February 23, 2012 | 4:55 PM

In January and February, a number of colleges send e-mail to counselors with headings such as "Scholarships still available at - University" and "We've extended our deadline." I just received another with the subject line "Deadline Schmeadline." It went on to say -- Our Regular Decision application deadline came and...

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Why We Remain Stuck With the Electoral System

(2) Comments | Posted October 11, 2011 | 11:21 AM

Here we go again. Every four years, as the presidential primaries loom, we are reminded that we employ a completely outmoded method of selecting our chief executive. To my students, some of whom will cast their first votes in November of 2012, it's clear that direct election of the president...

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What Do We Want Kids to Know About History?

(16) Comments | Posted August 26, 2011 | 5:00 PM

The recently released findings of the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress provided another opportunity for the usual hand-wringing about how little American kids know about American history these days. An Inquirer article reported that only 13 percent of the high school seniors who took the test "showed a solid...

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Greatest Living Americans: in 1922 and 2011

(2) Comments | Posted July 3, 2011 | 3:45 PM

A student in my American history class discovered two New York Times surveys published in 1922 listing, separately, the greatest living American women and men. In each case, a group of civic, academic and religious leaders were asked to submit their nominees.

This was not just another "best presidents" or...

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Nation-Building and Affirmative Action in 19th Century America

(4) Comments | Posted March 21, 2011 | 1:24 PM

Why all Americans should learn about the Freedmen's Bureau

In February 1865, shortly before the Civil War ended, Congress established "a bureau of refugees, freedmen and abandoned lands."

The great African American scholar and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois described the "herculean task" delegated to this agency as nothing...

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Keepers of the Faith: Why the Constitution Should Not Be Treated as a Sacred Text

(20) Comments | Posted February 1, 2011 | 8:04 AM

The 112th Congress opened a few weeks ago with a reading of the Constitution. Hard to argue about that? Guess again.

Certain Democrats charged "whitewashing," (maybe they do have a sense of humor after all) because the Republicans planned to read the amended version shorn of its...

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If Penn State Goes Private, Will They Have to Change the Name?

(9) Comments | Posted December 1, 2010 | 10:43 AM

Pennsylvania State University dwarfs the commonwealth's other institutions of higher learning, public and private. According to the university's own statistics, one out of every 127 American college-degree holders is a Penn State graduate!

The university has managed to thrive despite a steady decline in state funding. In the 1970s...

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Applying "Early Decision"

(0) Comments | Posted October 29, 2010 | 10:30 AM

It's that time of year again. High school seniors are deciding where they will apply to college, and for a sizable fraction the pivotal question is, Should I apply early?

Early application options vary by institution, but the one that generates the most debate at kitchen tables and in college...

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College Isn't Common Stock

(2) Comments | Posted September 14, 2010 | 3:21 PM

Return on investment (ROI) may be a useful measure for deciding whether to buy shares in a bond fund or a software company but, college is not just a commodity, it's a process, in the best cases a transformative one. A recently released study, attempts to grade institutions of higher...

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Giving disaster a name

(7) Comments | Posted June 19, 2010 | 6:05 AM

My students generally enjoy discussing current events, but they have been noticeably subdued when talk has turned to the expanding pool of oil in the Gulf. They get tired of looking helplessly at satellite images and pictures of oil-soaked birds. They want to do something.

We happened to have been...

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Sailing Solo: My Tenth Graders' Take On Jessica Watson's Voyage

(2) Comments | Posted May 21, 2010 | 2:49 PM

A 16 old Australian named Jessica Watson recently completed an around-the-world solo sailing voyage. Apparently, there has been some grumbling from certain quarters about her route not exactly meeting the official circumnavigational standards, but no one can deny that she is a tough kid.

Jessica sailed 23,000 nautical miles...

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