I am typing this on my iPad so please forgive even more errors than usual. Over at CCTV they have been talking about educating kids about civil rights — including some innovative use of music, role playing, and documentary film clips. All good. But there are two presumptions behind the discussion: kids no very little about the civil rights movement (the example which began the discussion is the term “Jim Crow” and that they need to be motivated to care.
This is a debate Monica and I have had before (as indeed she mentioned in one of her CCTV posts) but there is a twist in this round. What I hear from both kids and students is not lack of knowledge but resistance and weariness. I hear of exhaustion with hearing about rosa, mlk, I have a dream, about Nazis, Jews, and the camps. somehow we have managed to tell kids enough to make them think they know, but not enough for them to care. Monica emphasizes this need for kids (and teachers) to be invested in this history. I agree that matters a lot — and is a challenge to us as authors to make sure we are connecting with readers not lecturing at them. But…….
I also think facts, dates, names really help. Knowing your multiplication tables is not a matter of motivation — though it is in fact fun for some kids. Rather it is a matter of necessity. You must learn them to progress in your life, in school, in becoming a functional person. The key events of world history are the same: you need to know what 1066 and 1215 mean, when Rome fell, when Constantinople fell, why, and why these events changed the world. You need to know reconstruction and Jim Crow as an American who will become a citizen. Facts matter and as adult educative we must pass on not just excitement about math, science, history but also a sense of responsibility:you need to know this.
The problem is many adults, especially those involved in teaching young people, do not believe that. But more on that in another post.