Thursday, May 05, 2011

What's Your Story?

"History is herstory, too." ~Author Unknown

I was going to write a little blurb about Cinco de Mayo celebrations and whether or not those of us that are consuming some sort of agave-based beverage really know the story of the day. It's about a battle, as are a number of different holidays in any number of nations. The party usually benefits the victor. Viva la margarita!

However, I decided to take a different view on the day by Googling this date in women's history, and I found that Lucia True Ames Mead was born on this day in 1856, and she was all about peace. She was an educator who believed in teaching children about peace, and she published many works on peace - including materials for teachers.

Her works were published by the American Peace Society as a Primer of the Peace Movement. She was also instrumental in establishing, and organizing celebrations for, "Peace Day" (May 18t
h) in schools across the United States. Mead also presented "Peace Teaching in the Schools" at the American Institute of Education's annual conference in 1906. She was so persistent in her efforts to produce materials to assist teachers in the planning of a curriculum on peace that she published a book entitled Patriotism and the New Internationalism.

Later on, during World War I, she was heavily involved with the Women's Peace Party, and because of her position within the organization and her stance on the war, was considered "dangerous"; something that makes me want to read more about her.

As an educator, I see all too often that kids don't have many opportunities to think and form their own opinions and philosophies about world events, war and peace. Mostly they are just given data and facts to memorize and repeat.

In an age where we have so much access to news and "news-like" information on all kinds of media, and where kids have access to so many types of technologies that assault their senses with images of violence and sexuality, we are further and further from teaching critical thinking in a time when it is most needed.

I find it disheartening that only one teacher this week mentioned having a student bring up the killing of Osama Bin Laden, and the kid didn't bring it up to ask anything, but instead to say "Hey, did you hear that we 'got' Bin Laden?" Hmmm. If a kid isn't asking any questions about things they've heard or seen, then I think we've got ourselves a tremendous problem.

We aren't raising and educating thinkers anymore because teaching kids to think takes time - and teaching kids to learn how to think and question isn't measured on standardized tests that rank the schools.

If kids don't get chances to think and question, then they will only comprehend a very small part of what they are told, and the larger story will be forever lost.

1 comment:

Jan said...

Excellent post! And what a great idea of picking a subject.