Thursday, February 28, 2008
Nation building 101~
I'm expected to "teach" the time span between early civilizations in the New World-- the Aztecs, Mayans, Incas-- to the Civil War. In 180 days. This is mandated by the Massachusetts Department of Education.
So . . . sigh!
The presidential primary elections make the perfect springboard for looking back to understand why we have the form of government we do today. So I jumped ahead in the curriculum a couple hundred years to just after the Revolutionary War when the Constitution was written, the Bill of Rights argued over, the issue of slavery brushed aside to assure ratification, and of course, George Washington's acceptance of the presidency.
Two girls asked to put on a skit, something they'd prepared privately in the big supply closet during recess. Each pretended to be a candidate for president, and took turns reading their campaign promises.
At the end of class, one of my fifth graders stood at my desk, arms loaded with books ready to go to lunch.
"What's up, Josh?" I asked.
"I was thinking, and, well, a candidate could promise to do anything, but that doesn't mean he'd be able to." He paused. "Does it?"
He looked into my eyes, waiting for my reply. I confirmed his thinking, and praised his astuteness. He beamed and left.
We've returned to the 1500's curriculum-wise, but today I shared a "current event." The birth of a new nation: Kosovo.
"It's the newest country," I said. "Just born." I reminded them of our revolutionary beginning, and gave a brief overview of Kosovo's move toward independence: war, the resolutions from the organization in charge, the final declaration, and lastly, that some countries supported the independence and some didn't.
Miles said, "They've just begun and already they have enemies! And allies." He shook his head.
Mike had a different thought. "The kids must not have social studies class," he said.
"Why? What do you mean."?
"Well, they're so new. They have no history," he said.
Ahhh, the perfect segue to remind him of the long history of the Americas-- even before it "belonged" to us.
"Oh, yeah," he said.
I am so going to miss teaching.
"Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them."---George Santayana