I'm prejudiced. I was a History major in college. I was fortunate enough to have professors who were passionate about the discipline, so I both learned about the broad sweep of history over time, and fundamental research methods and techniques. That last served me well, as I've never gotten a teaching job in social studies, but in my other area of science.
America is different - we don't categorize residents as citizens by ancestry, but by choice:
the major reason why it is important for students to study our history: America is an exceptional country in that we were born out of a shared set of ideas--human liberty and opportunity, accompanied by a common set of values. It is often said that while being a Frenchman or German is bound up in ethnicity and ties to the soil, it is possible to become an American by adopting this nation's creed and beliefs.
You CHOOSE to become an American. Yes, I realize that some are fortunate enough to be born here, and so can escape the study that precedes naturalization. All the more reason to hammer into our young the bedrock principles and structures that make our nation possible.
Found via Betsy's Page. I've been reading her for some time. Don't know why it took so long to add her to the blogroll.