longer transcript of the interview posted at the "60 Minutes" website. Here is the pertinent passage as excerpted by The Washington Post:
Morley Safer: You, you, calling us historically illiterate.
David McCullough: Yes. I feel that very much so. I ran into some
students on university campuses who were bright and attractive and
likeable. And I was just stunned by how much they didn’t know. One young
woman at a university in the Midwest came up to me after one of my
talks and said that until she heard me speak that morning she’d never
understood that the original 13 colonies were all on the East Coast. And
I thought, “What are we doing that’s so wrong, so pathetic?” I tried it
again at several other places, colleges and universities, same thing.
Now, it’s not their fault. It’s our fault. And when I say our fault I
don’t mean just the teachers. I mean the parents and grandparents. We
have to take part. The stories around the family dinner table. I say
bring back dinner if you want to improve how children get to know
Morley Safer: But are the teachers themselves semi-illiterate in history?
David McCullough: Well we need to revamp, seriously revamp, the
teaching of the teachers. I don’t feel that any professional teacher
should major in education. They should major in a subject, know
something. The best teachers are those who have a gift and the energy
and enthusiasm to convey their love for science or history or
Shakespeare or whatever it is. “Show them what you love” is the old
adage. And we’ve all had them, where they can change your life. They can
electrify the morning when you come into the classroom.