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25 January 2011


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Sally Thomas

This is really excellent. I was thinking about some of these things while reading one of the Beverly Cleary Ramona books out loud to my younger kids recently -- they're great, and you have to love Ramona, but something about those books brings back the whole seismic feel of the mid-1970s, which I remember all too well: the grittiness and scuzziness of things, but also that sort of lostness, when suddenly your mother isn't home -- and not because she has to not be home, but because she wants to be elsewhere and feels it's her due.

Anyway, your course sounds terrific, and I think that your instinct -- to do it as *children's* history, is exactly right. Hm, we have all kinds of "niche" histories these days, but do we have a real, recognized genre of children's history? We ought to.

Anyway, thanks for the secondhand link!


Really great ideas, Erin.


Wow. I've never considered looking at it like that, but of course it is brilliant and so obvious. Since you're teaching to children, why not teach them through the viewpoint of children?

Thanks, a lot. When I get around to those subjects in a few years I will definitely borrow this strategy.


Ok by me :)


Some of the developments during the time period were unalloyed good; others were awful. For most, though, there was a mix of good and bad consequences, a lot of those unforeseen.

Getting in the habit of looking at the consequences for people who didn't have any choice in the matter, though, is good for evaluating current policy as well as historical policy.


Do you also ask them to put themselves in the positions of their once-younger siblings, now grown older, and facing an unwanted pregnancy?


Emma, that's absolutely got to be part of their education, yes -- just as I ask them to put themselves in the position of all kinds of people facing challenges in life. I've tried to do that repeatedly as we've studied American history: asked them to put themselves in the place of marginalized people as well as in the place of people who've done terrible things. I've asked them to put themselves in the place of undocumented immigrants, in the place of people who supported immigration amnesty, and in the place of people who support strict immigration law enforcement -- so they can understand where everyone is coming from. I asked them to put themselves in the place of white antebellum Southerners and white antebellum Northerners and free blacks and slaves. Heck, a couple of weeks ago I even asked them to put themselves in the place of Richard Nixon. "Can you understand how a person could imagine that their political opponents were really *enemies?* And if you thought that, would it still be okay to lie and cheat to win elections?"

How else can "do the right thing, always" sink in, how can "never help people commit injustice, never" sink in, until you really understand that sometimes doing the right thing is terribly, terribly difficult? That sometimes contributing to injustice is terribly, terribly tempting?

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