Starting School

The students arrived at the beginning of the week and every day has been jammed with special events, orientation, initial issue of school supplies, and finding their way through the schedule and around the buildings. Yesterday was our first day of classes.

I always begin the year in both U.S. History I and II with a discussion of perspective, (what is objective, what is subjective) and the concept of Rashomon (the idea that every event can be described from multiple points of view that do not always agree). Throughout the year “Who is telling this story?” will be a regular question as my classes read narratives from the past.

However as that opening discussion repeats every year, today feels like the real first day. I look down the long year and I think, Really? Can I do it again? Can I carry these children to the finish line in June? Stuff them with tales of heroes and villains, injustice and greed, fortitude and courage? Can I help them learn to think abstractly and make connections?

I feel tired and a little daunted but then I look at my student surveys, when I queried the children about their background in history and their learning style. The last question was, “Another thing you should know about me is…”  Children scrawled a variety of answers. “I hate school,” “I am shy,” “I love sports.”

One boy wrote carefully, “I’ve been waiting for this class since 4th grade.”

All right, then! Onward!

3 Responses to Starting School

  1. Shawn says:

    “I’ve been waiting for this class since 4th grade.”
    Boy, now that should make your year! How sweet.

  2. Ned says:

    Obviously you’ve made an impact that that goes far beyond your class. Congratulations!
    Perspective! I preach Perspective and Context. We have to look at history through their eyes not ours to understand the how and why.
    It is too easy to look at 18th century and say bad, bad, bad by applying 21st century norms. Instead we need to understand that those things were the norm, why they were the norm and what we did in order to move beyond.
    I wish more teachers taught that.

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