Saturday, June 27, 2009

When to teach them

As some of you know, I teach preschoolers about famous Americans.....it's gone incredibly well. They soak up the names and accomplishments of the heroes I have taught them about so quickly and enthusiastically. I use fun ways of telling them about people, like teaching them about Thomas Edison by switching off the classroom light and then flipping it on and saying "I have an IDEA!" They caught on as I repeated this a few times, finally yelling "I have an IDEA!" before I even did and giggling wildly because they beat me to it!...then I taught them about light bulbs and Edison, and they have NEVER forgotten. We covered Helen Keller, Abe Lincoln, Jackie Robinson, George Washington..and more.

I helped out at a special Summer School program on Monday and talked to a 9 year old. Somehow, slavery came up. "America was bad," he said. "So, America is a bad country NOW?" "Yes," he responded.

I said "But America was one of the first countries to stop slavery, all countries have had some kind of slavery, did you know that?" "NO," he answered. (of course not)

He's NINE YEARS OLD. Might it not be a good idea to teach our children the good about America and, when they're old enough to take it in and consider it, teach them the things in our history we're not as proud of?

As quickly and profoundly as my information about American heroes has been absorbed and digested (and I believe they'll never forget the names but, if they do, the feeling that we had some pretty wonderful people in America's history won't be forgotten...), our children will also NEVER forget the negatives if taught too early.

Tell me, what's the point? WHY talk about slavery at 9 years old? Did YOU learn about slavery at that age? WHY are teachers bringing that up so early NOW? Of course they should know about it, we should teach them everything...I'd just hope we'd start the negatives a little later. First, because there are two sides to a lot of stories (no, as much as there are aspects of slavery which deserve deeper delving, most of the story is nothing BUT bad, so I'm not particularly talking about that here), secondly, because young adults should have both sides of every subject taught them and be old enough and prepared enough to rationally weigh them in their own minds.

I HAVE AN IDEA! How about giving our kids the GOOD about America first...let them soak that in, get a basis for patriotism, love of country, feeling proud of where they come from...Do you think slavery should be taught at 8 and 9 years old to where a really bright young kid feels America is altogether bad because of it? Just so they know the truth? (I also taught them George Washington cut down the cherry tree. I figured learning how important it is not to lie trumped transparency, huh?)

z

30 comments:

lovelyprism said...

I don't necessarily think it should be taught that early and definitely not without the other information; such as who else did it and when it stopped and why. But we live in the South, it's a big part of daily life. It's mentioned a lot. So if the children are made aware of it, then they need details.

Ducky's here said...

our children will also NEVER forget the negatives if taught too early.

---------------------

What you are getting at here is that you don't think the negatives should be taught at all.

For a right winger, American History is vacation Bible school.

Z said...

LovelyPrism.....it's mentioned a lot? slavery? A 'part of daily life'?

Ducky, read what I said in the post.
But, now that you mention it.. yes, wouldn't America improve with a little more Bible school, not just during vacation....no doubt about it. People were so much better when they had a conscience,when they weren't all about THEM, when they believed in helping your neighbor out of the goodness of your heart, didn't they? What a difference in morality in our kids today from 40 years ago. But, hey, it FEELS GOOD, what they're doing while they ruin their futures, doesn't it?

JINGOIST said...

Z, have I ever told you how much I admire what you're doing with these kids? Way to go!

You wrote:
"WHY talk about slavery at 9 years old? Did YOU learn about slavery at that age? WHY are teachers bringing that up so early NOW? Of course they should know about it, we should teach them everything...I'd just hope we'd start the negatives a little later."

Do you remember a post you did around four months ago? It was about former KGB member Yuri Bezmenov and his exposing of the KGB's long-term strategy of infiltrating and demoralizing the best intitutions of this country.

When I was 9 I didn't know the 1st thing about slavery, but my daughter knew all about the heroic COMMUNIST Mother Jones at that age! Her principal got sick to death of me. :-)

Thanks for your work with these kids.

Leticia said...

My two boys 7 and 9 have already been taught about slavery in America as well as the liberation from it.

They see and understand a lot more than what we give them credit for. I say give them the benefit of the doubt.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Z,
This sounds like the education I received when I was young. Not so much from my teachers, but from my parents. I was taught by them that America was a great country and I was fortunate to be American.

From my grandmother I learned that people came here from other parts of the world to be free. She was in love with America and taught her children and grandchildren to be in love. The influences I received when I was young caused me to choose the path I took.

I was taught that we owed something to our country. My grandparents, parents, and I paid our dues. Again? Anytime.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Z,
BTW, thank you for what you are doing.

Z said...

Leticia, I hope you're right. I wish you'd seen the look in this little boy's eyes, the surety that America was BAD.
When I taught them about Abe Lincoln's administration being the one which freed the slaves, we talked the next week about jackie Robinson...that's positive, that's teaching them to understand the past and learn about the future in a positive way, I think.
One parent told me her 4 year old and she were out one day when they ran into a friend..the friend, for some reason, brought up Babe Ruth and talked baseball with this Mom....suddenly, the mom told me "Mimi asked us ' was Babe Ruth as good as Jackie Robinson?'.. she said they looked at each other like "WHAT? How's she know about Jackie Robinson?" I was DEEElighted and so was the Mom!

Thanks, Jingo...parents have sat back long enough; it's time to get back to teaching our kids America's the greatest country on the earth.

You should have heard my older class (I have each class 20 minutes a week and the teachers help them memorize during their days with them) sing I'M PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN at their end of the year dinner for their folks. Pumped the air with "and I want to STAND UP next to you..and defend her still today..." it was adorable. Lots of wet eyes in that room!

Z said...

Law& Order..Thank YOU. I know what you mean about your family telling you these things..my mother's a naturalized citizen and ADORES the country for all it's given her. You won't find a nasty remark from her lips...
These days, though, she's so disillusioned.."we never locked our door when you were little" "people who came here loved this country and would rather die than take welfare, today they come with phone numbers for the welfare offices in their hands".etc..Mom's really quite discouraged about what's happened here.

MACW said...

It's sad that "slavery" keeps coming up in daily life. We are taught in church to let go of what happen yesterday and enjoy today. Those that keep bringing it up are enslaving themselves to the yesterdays. Frankly they are re-writing history in the school books. I have my old history books and they aren't the same as my nephew's history books. They are focused on the negative, sadly.
Our children aren't learning the "true" history.
GREAT post!

mac

Anonymous said...

Z
I don't think you can teach the Civil War or Lincoln without teaching slavery. I do agree that there's something wrong if slavery is the first thing that comes to mind when one hears the name America.

On a similar note, do you know much about how WWII is taught in Germany? English-language German history text books would be an interesting read.

Another question that your international perspective may help you answer...Someone told me that Russia, China, and Germany see America as a purveyor of smut, pornography, etc. When I was staying in LA, an employee at the hotel and native Russian said something about the women in LA being prudish. LA hardly has a puritanical reputation among Americans. I'm not saying everything in America is praiseworthy, but I have a hunch these countries may exaggerate America's sins. Your thoughts?

Ducky,
What's with your animadversion to VBS?

Tio,
What's with the dropping words you learned from Wm Buckley?

tio b

Z said...

tio, Yes, I do know how Germans are taught....to feel CRAP about themselves. I have friends in their mid sixties who have said "I never feel proud to be a German because we were reminded all those years in school of what had happened.." Ya, I know. I've heard it countless times..oh, yes.

I don't want American kids feeling that way. And, "Lincoln freed the slaves" is FINE...I learned that...but I NEVER had the kind of information that 9 yr old obviously did. I was taught America was a great country...I learned her foibles later.

I only have long and intense experience with French and Germans and I'd be screaming with laughter if either thought WE were purveyors of porno, trust me! Ever been to Berlin? Paris!? No...I've never heard that.
Japan and China? TONS of porn there..really sickening stuff.

But, we have ruined Japan , in my opinion; young kids used to have such respect for the elderly, they dressed well, they were SO beautifully behaved..not any more. NO way..VERY Americanized in a way I wouldn't want American kids to act; none of my nieces and nephews, born here, took to Americanization as well as some of the japanese kids I've seen in pictures, videos, etc..And I hear this from Japanese women in my Bible study, too.

Also, LA could do with a few more prudish women, if you want the truth! How refreshing.

Anonymous said...

My experience was much like L&O's, and Z's.

My mom, and of course my grandmother, were both naturalized citizens as well. I enjoyed my grandmother's stories about the country she came from with my grandfather, and my mom (a one year old).

She always said she would never go back except to visit. She loved America.

To hear my dad tell it, you'd think he landed at Plymouth Rock! Ha, Ha.

My parents were always teaching us, especially my dad. I can't remember what age I was when I learned about slavery.

I was taught how wonderful America is and how we righted past wrongs.
I grew up loving this country, and it stayed with me to this day.

I would point out that, there was a continuity between home and school. Teachers referred us to our parents for personal issues. It was clear parental authority was respected.

And our parents expected us to respect our teachers and all adults, or as they put it, our elders.

Yes L&O, we too were taught to be responsible law abiding citizens. We were also taught to stand up for what's right, and for our country.


Ducky, it's all in how they're taught. It's obvious to me you got a negative message somewhere along the way. You never have anything good to say about America, and God knows, you are intolerant of those who don't think like you.

I think you're wrong, you think I'm evil. That's the difference.


Z, you do a wonderful thing for those little ones. You should be very proud. I admire what you do. Good for you.

Pris

Mustang said...

When I was very young … some time early in the previous century, my school had wonderful books for both boys and girls. I must have read all the books they had for boys. They were stories of William Penn, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, Sam Houston, William Travis, Winfield Scott, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, John Mosby, U. S. Grant, Samuel Clemens, Kit Carson, Admiral Dewey, Teddy Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson. These were stories for boys, mind you. They were not accurate histories; they spoke of how they grew up in early America, their relationships with their parents, the dangers associated with living out in the wild. They were adventure stories; they told of their exploits, brave things they did, honorable things they stood for.

You won’t find these books in school libraries any more. They were racist, exclusionary, and not historically accurate. For example, the book I read about Thomas Jefferson never mentioned that he might have been sprigging a female slave woman. The book about Robert E. Lee never mentioned anything about latent homosexual tendencies, And the book I read about Kit Carson never mentioned that he was a mean drunk, or that Jim Bowie was a land speculator caught up in several fraudulent deals. I suppose that’s because boys don’t need to know that sort of thing. But you know, these men were a boy’s heroes … back when it was okay to have heroes, even if they weren’t Christ-like.

What heroes do young boys have today? Clinton? Frank? Obama? John Walker Lindh? Their absentee fathers?

And we may wonder why we have so much trouble with juvenile delinquency …

Z said...

Pris, THANK You very much. The more I do this, the more I come up with the curriculum and dream up fun ideas with which to present the heroes, the more I enjoy it. To have seen those kids at the last night party I told you about in an email was SO rewarding..they knew those people COLD.

Mustang, yes... THAT is why I DO teach George Washington cut the cherry tree down. WHO CARES if it didn't happen? And DO we know it didn't? It taught US a great lesson...if that great man didn't lie, SHOULD WE?
WHO CARES if Abe didn't really set out to free the slaves (and that's not really 100% certain either way, either), what is WRONG with telling our children that story as we heard it?

CHILDREN NEED HEROES and they don't have them anymore.ANYBODY who does something wonderful will be POUNCED ON by the media and run into the ground for some slightest thing THEY don't like.

This has to stop; we can't have a healthy society without heroes, I'm convinced of that more and more. Our kids are bored, they're depressed, they're not interested..why BOTHER to DO anything great?..nobody really MAKES it but ROCK STARS and Sports celebs...and drug addicts get famous...etc etc.

it's very scary and it MUST change..don't you think? but HOW?

Law and Order Teacher said...

Z,
I too, was a kid sometime in the previous century as Mustang said. I never thought of it like this. Now I really feel old.

We didn't have a really cool library in our school when I was a kid, but the nuns brought a cart of books around for us to read. They did a very smart thing and stacked books about sports figures and presidents for the boys to read. We got hooked on biographies. I still am to this day.

What I really learned was heroism. Some people are worth admiring. Some people are worth emulating. Some people we wanted to be like. I adored my parents, not to say I didn't argue with them, but I absolutely adored my German-speaking grandparents.

They told me that America was an ideal not so much a place. I listened to them speak another language without ever learning it. My mother spoke German before English. She still speaks it to this day. She'll let it fly when angry and my brothers and I try to figure out what she just said.

She remembers other kids laughing at her for her accent once she left her German neighborhood. Her father drilled her constantly about learning to speak English properly. Different time.

That was my childhood. America was that shining city on a hill to my grandparents.

What happened to our country?

Z said...

Some of my family had accents, too, L&0 ..And, Mr.Z still probably sounds like your mother with a much deeper voice!!

Good question: I don't know what happened to America. Political correctness, liberal morality, lack of and even mocking of Judeo-Christian faith, teachers and journalists who don't know indoctrination and dishonesty have never been anything Americans believe in.....
Conservative values were taught out of our kids, parents have been made speed bumps in the road of leftist teachers who demand that only their viewpoints be ingested ...we've taught WHAT to think instead of HOW to think..and that WHAT had BETTER be liberal.
I never KNEW my teachers' politics, even in college and in history classes, did YOU?

It's been a slow and steady seeping in of leftist philosophies which are antithetical to America......
and it happened so fast! Leftists Tip O'Neal and Pat Moynihan were Dems but you knew they LOVED this country and valued its forefathers, etc, and they were around until only fairly recently....how did this smutty socialist stuff like Ducky spews get so commonplace? he admits to being a socialist.
Remember when socialist or communist was a bad thing...? something this country fought against?

ugh. I'm tired of the whole thing..and the Left's set it up that good people who are seeing obama's terrible plans for this country and speaking out are dismissed, demeaned, laughed at, etc..when did a president insult a Sean Hannity for his viewpoints? EVER? NO. No president's insulted half of America's thinking!! EVER.

When did Americans vote for a guy with terrorist friends, anti-American pastors, no experience, socialist ideas? EVER? NO. Imagine if a Republican candidate had had Bill Ayers for a friend!!? Obama promised America he'd be in a church in DC as soon as they settled in...now, I don't care, really, what he does, but why promise a CHURCH, then still not have a choice in SIX MONTHS and we have a media which doesn't give a darn!

this was just the right timing for a man like this...and it's no accident. It was a well greased road to ruin, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I grew up during and after WW II in Germany. When I came to school, the Federal Republic of Germany was about to be founded, but most of Germany was still in rubble.

I don't know how history is taught today. When I came to school, Germany was still shell-shocked, and I cannot remember any history being taught the first six years. And then, we got a first round "light" about history, starting with the Antique, and then working forward until modern times by tenth grade. Then we got another round "heavy" for the last three years, including "das Dritte Reich".

The history of the past, which included, as typical in Germany, a complete review of world history, was factual. There was no judgment made about "that was good" or "that was bad". We heard about the Indians in the U.S., but without a judgment.

The only period for which judgment came in was the Third Reich. We were told how that developed, and into what it developed. And we were told about the consequences of that period in our political system, including no armed forces, no participation in wars outside Germany, the guilt for what had happened during the Hitler years, etc. Remember, these baselines were founded on requirements enforced upon Germany by the Allied Forces, mainly the U.S.

Summary of my opinion: "World/U.S. history light" for smaller pupils; when they are old enough to really understand (age 12+), more detailed FACTS, but no judgment by the teachers. And finally: No country that I know of ever teaches its children that their own country is a bad country. None, other than the U.S. And then we wonder, why there are problems??

Mr.Z

Law and Order Teacher said...

Z,
My mother described her friends and she as the Katenjammer Kids, the comic strip. My grandfather, August, was a big time union official for the printers. They enforced the printing of movie posters to be put on the front of the movie theaters.

He told my mother and her friends to go downtown to see the movies, but before they went in to tell them she was Gus's daughter and she and her friends saw the movies for free.

My GreatGrandfather died in 1903 when my grandfather was 13. My grandfather took care of his mother, and all his brothers and sisters by his wit. He had a third grade education.

But my mother told us that her father wore a suit to work everyday and made $100 a week. She is very proud of him. They had a house, clothes, food, and some money left over during the Great Depression. Well done.

All my grandfather's people were from Saxony. She tells me that I'm dark complected and I look just like my grandfather.

Sorry to rattle on, but I find this very interesting.

Where is Mr. Z from? I would really like to hear about his homeland.

Always On Watch said...

In my view, children should be taught about the good of their country until about age 12, the age of discernment.

If we look at other cultures which take pride in their accomplishments, teaching too early about the negative heritage is not done.

In my own case, I was exposed to only patriotic material until about age 12. At that point, I was able to gain a more balanced view.

Anyway, that's my two cents on the matter.

Anonymous said...

L&O: I was born in what was later East Germany, in a little town called Rechlin (at which the test center of the German Air Force was located where my father was involved in the development of the first autopilots) at the Müritz lake. We fled from the Russians in 1945 and went to live with the parents of my father in Neumünster, 40 miles North of Hamburg. We stayed there until 1958 when my mother died, and then my brother and I stayed with relatives, he in Stuttgart, I in Oldenburg (West of Bremen). That is where I made my "Abitur", after I which I went to Munich to study at the Technical University.

Mr.Z

Z said...

My GOSH, L&0! Your family sounds EXACTLY like my father's..great grandfather didn't die but wasn't as adept at business as my grandfather was...my grandfather left school in the second or third grade and went to work (having learned English in about six months becuase YOU HAD TO, and HE WANTED TO) and, with almost no education, became a very big fish in the small town of Troy, NY by the time he was in his middle twenties.
He wore a suit AND VEST every day till the day he died at the age of 89. And a hat when outside!

I LOVE family stories, thanks, L&0!

And thanks to Mr. Z....who has such an interesting story none of us could really relate to. I
Yes, he wasn't taught to love Germany ... they had to face up to the fairly recent past of theirs, but HE DOES love his country; unlike other of our friends his age who feel quite awkward about it. Which is why so many shrinks are in business with after-war adults who feel guilty, something Americans don't know.

I'm with Always...at 12, MAYBE, tell American kids..Until then, it's AMERICA IS THE GREATEST, BABY (because it IS)

Z said...

Bono Mack (CA) 202-225-5330
Castle (DE) 202-225-4165
Kirk (IL) 202-225-4835
Lance (NJ) 202-225-5361
Lobiondo (NJ) 202-225-6572
McHugh (NY) 202-225-4611
Reichart (WA) 202-225-7761
Chris Smith (NJ) 202-225-3765

The RINO"S who voted for C&T. give them a friendly little call! :0)

Anonymous said...

Mr Z,

Your story of education in Germany after WWII is interesting. If you were taught that the Third Reich was bad and that Germany was bad for following those leaders, did they also teach that National Socialism was just another form of socialism?

Here in North America with eduactional systems run by government bureaucracy more and more explicitly it is taught that socialism is good and it is capitalism that is bad. It is then easy to extend the argument to hatred of America and other Western countries by saying that thhey are the remnants of colonialism and capitalism. So ultimately it becomes a war against the founding principles of America — a war against individualism, freedom and capitalism — at least that's my opinion.

But one easy way to see a liberal-leftist-socialist go off the deep end is to remind them that Hitler was a socialist, too, A National Socialist.

Waylon

Ducky's here said...

Let's see, nine years old and some seem to assume the child has an adequate level of moral and cognitive development to fully understand terms like good and evil.

Seems that many on the right have as well developed a knowledge of child development as they do socialism.

Anonymous said...

Ducky, I'm always willing to listen to anybody who is capable of explaining the benefits of socialism in a logical and rational way. Please enlighten me, if I have given any misrepresentations of socialism.

Waylon

Anonymous said...

Some people just hide behind polemics when they run out of arguments (if they ever had any).

I am sorry, but a nine year old is not in a position to make adequate judgments - it is exactly for that reason that the legal age for having the right to vote is 18 (in Germany).

As I said before, we were told facts, not positions. I never knew what political beliefs my teachers had. And believe me, if you grew up in a country where you had been driven away from your home by brutal Russians, and you see that the Russians had instigated the blockade of Berlin, built the iron curtain, and forced the countrymen in East Germany to an oppressed life, and you see people being shot while trying to get over the wall into freedom - you must be brain dead not to recognize that Socialism/Communism is not the right form of government, particularly if you are living in a country that is free - thanks to the Americans who basically brought that freedom to (West) Germany. Our teachers didn't have to tell us - we saw it with our own eyes.

I still believe that the concept of a neutral position by teachers is the only way to go. And when the pupils are old enough (i.e. 16+) they will start making up their own mind. That, of course, is not the way it is handled in the U.S. anymore - the teaching at schools is tremendously biased, and the people can't even find out the truth when looking at the mass media.

To answer the question whether we were told that National-Sozialismus was actually socialism. The answer is: No. That question was largely overshadowed by coming to grips with the brutal reality in Germany under Hitler and the leading to WW II. It is, quite frankly, also irrelevant, IMHO because the other issues, such as the expansionist policies of the Nazis or the hatred of Jews had much more impact on Germany than the philosophy question. Looking at it backwards, though, it is clear that some of the oppressive philosophies applied by the socialists in East Germany, or those of which we see the beginnings here in this country, are indeed the same.

I challenge anybody who has lived through a situation like i did in Germany to find an argument against one of the prevailing questions in Germany in the 1970's: "Lieber tot als rot" ("I'd rather be dead than red" - red is the color of socialism/communism) which has been the guideline of conservatives. The question came up on a regular basis when discussing a potential re-unification between the two Germany's. The socialists mainly under Brandt always said that we should rather be communists and together than free and separated. But then, Brandt and many other socialist politicians during that period had gotten their education in Moscow. Quod erat demonstrandum (that is why....).

Bottom line, let me re-emphasize again: Young people are hardly in a position to make a judgment before they are 16 to 18 years old. They should be taught the facts and the love for their country, and never ever a political position. It is just simply wrong.

Mr.Z

mksviews said...

"How about giving our kids the GOOD about America first...let them soak that in, get a basis for patriotism, love of country, feeling proud of where they come from."

And there in lies the problem that the left have Z. They don't want the children growing up loving their country and becoming patriots. It's much harder to destroy the nation and remake it into just another socialist shithole leftists love so much but won't move off to.

Z said...

Hi, Waylon..the similarities with Hitler and some of what's going now are astounding.

Mr. Z..thanks. It still fascinates me to learn about the German education system you grew up under.

MK..I've always thought you were WISE :-)

Z said...

Oh, I forgot:
Ducky...no conservative I know has any trouble understanding socialism OR why America is too good for it..or was. It's a country which has beautifully stood against it and now types like you are turning her into a place of illegals, poor, and indoctrinated thinking socialism is WONDERFUL. I'll make sure I put YOU on America's CAUSE OF DEATH. Thanks a lot.

As for children? NO, one doesn't teach of slavery at 9....can you tell me the point?
WHY? is it SO terrible to you to let our kids grow up loving this country and then filling in the blanks? Is it THAT important to you that ALL hate this country? WOW>