In the 1970's, Madison College (now James Madison University) required that all students enrolled in a degree program pass a basic swimming course. Forcing young adults with a fear of water into the pool, though, often produced less-than-happy results.

Although swimmings place in many college and high school core curricula has been questioned since then, the place of United States history rarely has. But given the probably unresolvable controversies over what should be taught, perhaps it is time to stop forcing U.S. history on students, thereby permitting redeployment of history teachers who confuse indoctrination with education.

We might move to an elective system of history study in which learners would research the widest possible range of viewpoints, utilizing the most diverse sources.

The college-bound would be responsible for meeting the history requirements of the school they select. In keeping with the Latin root of the term "educate" (to lead forth), the role of teachers would be to lead their learners beyond historical stereotypes, whether those stereotypes be those of the 1920's or of more recent vintage.

John Clem, Edinburg