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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Diversity starts at home

I know a lot of homeschool parents are resistant to the school's practice of teaching to the holidays, whereby every single year kids are led through the same consecutive series of politically-correct, washed-out versions of the holidays, starting with Columbus Day. They cycle through Black History month, martin Luther King, Jr Day, President's Day and a bunch of other holidays that actually end up trivializing the very things they're designed to commemorate.  I know that when I was a kid, I heard the same Lewis & Clark stories over and over and over again but it wasn't until I was an adult and I heard these stories from a different perspective that I saw how corrupt it is to teach the same recycled, watered-down versions year after year.  Kids can memorize vocabulary words about historical stories, but the real lesson lies in feeling the true magnitude of the situation.  I think museums and documentaries are far better teachers of history than worksheets. I didn't understand how horrific the holocaust was until I saw Schindler's list. I didn't understand how risky and complicated the Underground railroad was until I toured the basement of a house that was used to house 20-30 refugees at a time. As a mom, I think it's important for us to keep our eyes open for real live opportunities to bring history into our children's lives, rather than depending on the old-fashioned paradigm of worksheets, cyclic holiday lessons and meaningless representations of symbols from history that are removed from their context.  

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