I go into the classroom every day with the goal of trying to bring the past alive and to help my students pull meaning and lessons for their own lives. It’s not an easy task and I would be kidding myself if I thought that I succeeded in regard to every student that has ever entered my classroom or even a significant majority. I’ve reconciled myself to thinking about it in terms of degrees of success. I’ve never believed that we come hardwired to embrace and appreciate the importance of the past. It’s something that must be encouraged over time and with great care.
I was reminded of this as I was perusing my favorite Facebook pages instead of grading papers. In this post a prominent voice in the Virginia Flaggers whines incessantly that the governor of Virginia has yet to issue a Confederate History Month proclamation. There is still time and my money is on that it will eventually be published – thought it’s content will likely fall short of what it expected by certain circles. Continue reading
I love the way these two short videos poke fun at the relatively small number of people who imagine themselves still fighting the Civil War. They talk in personal terms about the hardships experienced by civilians and soldiers as if they themselves experienced the very same hardships. They talk in terms of “we” and “us” or “our” cause. This one is for you. Enjoy.
A Civil Rights tour of the South can be a transformative experience for students. I know it has been for a number of mine, who took part in last week’s trip. There is no better place to teach this material than at the very sites themselves. They allow for the kind of identification, empathy and understanding that is impossible to teach in the classroom. The experience is only heightened when in the presence of those people who took part in the struggle. On our trip those participants were almost all African American. They included folks on the front lines and those behind the scenes. They afforded an intimate look into the lives of African Americans and the black communities in which they lived at the time. Continue reading