Eighth graders at a Sacramento middle school will remember that teacher Emilio Moran announced fees on homework (10 cents), hall passes ($1) and tardiness (10 cents per minute). But will they understand the colonists’ resistance to “taxation without representation?”
“Ultimately, we got the outrage and upset we wanted,” (Moran) said.
“Part of the problem with teaching history is that it is hard to get kids into the proper mindframe. I could tell them what happened 200 years ago, but my colleagues and I believe that if students remember anything, they will remember the fraudulent classroom rules.”
Yes, but that’s not the point, is it?
Feeling history is all the rage, Education Gadfly points out.
The Detroit News, for example, recently praised a teacher who built a life-size replica of a World War I trench with his students to help give them ” a realistic feeling of being a [Word War I] soldier.” Sixteen-year-old Jessica Harbin, faithfully parroting the party line, told the News that once students see the trench, “there will be a great impact in their understanding and knowledge of war.” No word on whether rats, mud, influenza, dead bodies, and post-war mental problems are part of the lesson.
Actually, the paper trench does come equipped with model rats. But it doesn’t seem all that authentic. Perhaps the teacher should arrange for a few students to be shot each day. Or the class could go “over the top” to attack a trench in another classroom. Extra credit for creative use of the bayonet.
If students know history well, they may be able to understand the emotions of people in the past. But the knowledge comes first. Trying to learn by feeling is a dubious proposition.
It gets even worse when getting students to feel the approved way is the goal, not the means to an end. Students who sleep in cardboard shacks will feel compassion. They won’t wonder how housing will solve the problems of the addicted and mentally ill homeless. Via Interested Participant, courtesy of Number 2 Pencil.