From Diane Ravitch's book "Left Back", regarding the American Historical Association and a publication from 1929..... Ravitch quotes that they "argued that the masses lacked the intellectual capacity to study history".
Kind of like when you tell someone they're stupid or ugly, tell them enough times and they believe it.
I had a love-hate relationship with History as a child. I went on my own historical research journeys, learning about such things as Native American tribes, pioneers, and genocide. But in school it seemed a boring course full of facts and figures but no "meat", meaning we might learn the dates and countries in WWI but not the emotions, lives, cultures, images, etc of WWI. When you just learn a date and place you have no connection to history, no interest. Defining terms at the end of a chapter or adding a date to a timeline is ludicrous. Okay you do need to know when and where WWI happened but if that is all you know, do you have vested interest in it? No. History often repeats itself and if you merely know "some guy named Hitler killed 6 million Jews during WWII in Europe" will you vow to stop genocide in its tracks when it rears its ugly head? Maybe, hopefully, but armed with only facts, you do not likely "care"...the passion is not there.
I always wondered as a child why History was so boring and why we couldn't learn more about this or that, more than just a paragraph, vocab term, and date.
Now I know why. The Progressives sought to turn history into "social studies" to use education as political engine for social control, change, same thing in their book. Yes, history (or "social studies") should as I said, inspire you to not repeat the bad parts so I guess that could be social change but the Progressives idea of social change was not that, but to transform society, culture, to a collective society.
I think, if you change history to "social studies" you do change the culture through historical omission. It is a slow and steady method of social change, one you won't see...kind of like children....they're babies and they grow slowly to adulthood and suddenly one day you wake up and your baby is finishing high school and you think when did this happen? Same thing for social change via the Progressives. I have awaken and realized something is amiss.
But back more to my quote as I diverged a little there. To say the masses are too dumb to understand history....egads! Keeping education "dumbed down" will ensure we're too dumb to understand it or even want to understand it. As if we understood it, we might wake up as I have and say, wait a minute guys....hold on...stop! We don't want your collectivism, your social control, we want FREEDOM to be who we are as guaranteed by our Founding Fathers, our governmental documents, our American Dream. Take back our hearts, minds, culture, thoughts and be who we are meant to be.... NOT a people under control of elite progressives, but a people of free enlightened thinkers.