According to this CNN article by Jacob Soboroff, American students have been doing poorly in the subject of American history. The article concludes, as such articles usually do, with the idea that history needs to be taught in such a way as to make it interesting to the students.
Personally, I can’t recall a time when history was not interesting purely for its own sake to me, but apparently there are those who do not share my interest in the subject.
It occurs to me that perhaps the best way of arousing interest in the subject is to begin by talking about issues in the present day–ideally some sort of problem which affects the audience–and through this prompt them into asking why the problem exists. In general, for all fields outside of the hard sciences, the answer to “why” often involves a history lesson in some way.