18 December 2009

Still More Picking on the Clueless

A couple dozen people showed up for a meeting in the Rockwood School District of Ellisville, Missouri, to protest teaching students about the standard designations CE (Common Era) and BCE (Before Common Era). According to a news story “Citizens stated they want the district to use B.C. and A.D. as a standard when talking about dates in history.” One of them complained “I just think it’s trying to pacify being politically correct and I don’t agree with that at all. It should not be taught.” A petition on the subject has “attracted hundreds of signatures”.

The odd thing is that the school district in question does not in fact use any nomenclature other than AD/BC in referring to dates in history. “There is no policy or plan in place to remove the use of B.C. or A.D. in the Rockwood School District or to enforce the use of any other designated dating system,” according to Kim Cranston. Apparently the school does teach about the existence of the standard CE/BCE designation, in use among historians for centuries, as well they should, if they want the kids prepared for college. A spokesman for the district, however, seems to say that they intend to enforce the use of the AD designation to provide historical clarity—whatever that’s supposed to mean.

The two comments on this story are stupid in the extreme. One reads:
Enough of this political correctness. Why don't we use the terms PCE/BPCE. Political Correct Era and Before Political Correct Era. Let's start teaching BP Before Present and ACE After Common Era. We need a Superintendent and Board of Education who have a backbone and stand up for what is right. This is a symptom of a larger problem.
The other:
The only thing the school district will understand is taxes. Vote against them and protest your taxes.
I contributed the following comment:
If historical clarity is the issue than students should be taught the standard CE/BCE system used by historians for the past four centuries. It’s a distinction without a difference, really; AD 2009 is the same date as 2009 CE; 146 BC is the same date as 146 BCE. (Both nomenclatures involve the omission of the year 0, making calculations between years AD/CE and BC/BCE needlessly cumbersome.) Historically the Common Era or Christian Era has also been known as the Vulgar Era; the system was devised by some sixth century monk so he didn’t have to use the emperor’s name in calculating dates for Easter.

And by the way if the kids are going to be taught the AD/BC nomenclature, I do think they should be taught that the AD goes in front of the date, not after it. So many times I’ve seen people mistakenly write 2009 AD instead of AD 2009. It would probably also be helpful to remind them that AD stands for “Anno Domini” and not “After Death”.
My comment has not yet shown up as I publish this entry.

(h/t Afarensis)


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Way to go. Unfortunately I don't write Chinese-- your other comments look pretty and artistic. What possible difference can BCE make to the eager nay-sayers in the news story ...? And why are they cooking this issue up?

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