As a history teacher, there are times when the past reasserts itself with such force that you have to put aside your plans and address the moment. Charlottesville is one of those times. The image of white supremacists openly marching in defense of a Confederate general, viciously beating and murdering those who are protesting their racism — is an image we hoped had died with Jim Crow. That this image is not a relic of the past, is a reality that teachers and students must face as they return to the classroom in the coming weeks.
I have a lot of respect for teachers, especially ones like Sanchez who are leading the movement for more sane thinking about history and current events in our schools. Keep fighting the good fight!
This is an important piece because one of the major roles of schools is to condition people to acquiescing to and upholding the status quo. White supremacy is one of the fundamental roots of neoliberal global capitalism, so fighting it in the schools is mandatory, though hugely risky.
In the end, honest formal education is about accuracy, truth-telling, critical thinking, understanding humanity in all its complexity and science, technology, math, the trades, and writing. Also exercise, nutrition and the arts. If we engage these as educators, we are doing our revolutionary duty.
Adjunct Associate Professor (Writing)
Saint Paul, MN USA
Very important article. We should also be reminded that in many parts of the country, especially in the West, many of our schools & streets, etc. are named after people whose main claim to fame is the number of Native Americans they massacred. For example Kit Carson & John C. Fremont. An important book on these massacres is “An American Genocide, the United States & the California Indian Catastrophe” by Benjamin Matley.
Wish I would have experienced, a sage like Adam in my history classes. Bravo! Your students are fortunate.
Very much agree with TomJohnson1. I’d like to add the importance of Civics and History (told as it happened, not the fairy tale version.) Howard Zinn’s book, A People’s History of the United States is a great example.
We always kind of assume that everyone in our country believes in democracy. There is a growing movement in our politics that does NOT believe in democracy. They have been very successful in turning this country into an oligarchy. They are thinking of more & more ways to keep non-white people from voting. We must educate the next generation on participatory democracy or are “democratic” country will cease to be.
A good place to start learning the full history of the US is viewing this ACLU presentation.
Are you sure it is wise to paint with a broad brush? The landowners of the nation in the South may have been enriched by slavery but in the North? If the Nation as a hole was built on anyone’s back it was that of Indians. Their land, their backs.
As a historian and teacher you might want to ask your stundents to compare MacArthur’s success in Japan with Johnson’s failure in the South. That will reveal a lot of truths. Mac in one generation changed a feudal society into a modern democratic socialist nation equal to any of the success stories of post war Europe. All the social welfare benefits, equal rights for women who had zilch in Japan, redistribution of land. Not a bad start.
You and the New Diversity Democrats who have abandoned their anti war stance, given up an egalitarian society where wealth is evenly and wisely distributed for the personal dopamine rush that comes with self righteously lambasting Nazi wannabes and painting again with a broad brush declaring that white supremacy is now the nation’s biggest problem and by God you are fighting against the Klan and their ilk by calling every lonely guy who may or may not like some ethnic group names are in for a big surprise. That is a losing strategy. Culture wars are feel good issues. Wall Street loves them all, don’t cost a dime and they don’t change anything. Fighting the downtrodden and mentally ill KKK and Nazi .001%who have no power, no influence, and work minimum wage jobs while ignoring Wall Street Oligarchs who now make any law they want just gives the Oligarchs and Trump exactly what they want and need to win the next election. Keep it up, I’m old, I’ll be dead. I no longer care.
In my history books I recall the emphasis on battles, numbers of soldiers, horses, and troop movement. The glorifcation of and fascination for war was totally lost on me and still is.
I don’t go along with it, but that sort of education does promote the feeling that these attitudes are unchangeable.