Thursday, November 23, 2006

Teaching Kids about Thanksgiving

For many people, myself included, Thanksgiving is about turkey, football, family and friends, not necessarily in that order. But for some it seems to be another battleground for promoting certain views. A California teacher used the occasion as follows:
Teacher Bill Morgan walks into his third-grade class wearing a black Pilgrim hat made of construction paper and begins snatching up pencils, backpacks and glue sticks from his pupils. He tells them the items now belong to him because he "discovered" them. The reaction is exactly what Morgan expects: The kids get angry and want their things back.

Not surprisingly, his approach caused some controversy. Here was one response:

"If you are going to teach, you need to keep it positive," he said. "They can learn about the truths when they grow up. Caring, sharing and giving — that is what was originally intended."

I think the latter sentiment makes a lot of sense. It's fine for high schoolers and college students to take a realistic look at the relations between settlers and native americans. But 3rd graders? Just have them learn about how to prepare the various Thanksgiving dishes, or something similarly innocuous.

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