I’m now on the shorter side of forty and feel like I have so much catching up to do when it comes to learning. Quite frankly I’m pissed at my self and those who “taught” me for not doing a better job. I was poorly taught history. As an educator myself, I’ve been embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve reached an age that I feel like it must be said. I was forced to memorize dates and events without ever really grasping the context. I remember that Mr. Clem, my high school English teacher brought history alive for me for the first time when he taught us about literature and the historical influences on it. Unfortunately, that wasn’t US History. My history teachers ALWAYS started at the beginning of the textbook and worked their way through until we ran out of time somewhere around the end of World War II. Technically, US history ended for me there. The semester I spent in government class was the most I learned about recent history. I didn’t consider that teacher (Ms. Pyle) effective at the time, but I know better now. I know this is rambling, so let me get to the point… TWICE now in my adult life I have been in a place in our country for work and decided to take in some landmark with heartwrenching results. It probably should have happened a third time when I stopped by Gettysburg, but I didn’t stay long enough to do anything but say I had been there. Anyway, when I went to San Antonio the first time, I went to the Alamo. I knew I was supposed to “Remember the Alamo” and I knew that there was a battle there that was instrumental in Texas becoming part of the US and not Mexico. That’s it. I didn’t even know Ozzy peed there and was banned. So in I go to the Alamo. About 30 seconds into it, reality began to set in. There was this lock of Davy Crockett’s hair. There was an ornate vest of his. I began to understand; I began to weep. I didn’t cry because Davy Crockett died there. I cried because I didn’t know it.
Fast forward with me to a time that I was working in Memphis. My colleague and friend, Sandra said that I had to go to the National Civil Rights Museum (NCRM). I love Sandra and always seem compelled to learn more about the Civil Rights movement. Thurgood Marshall has been a hero since I was in high school (remember that Government class with Ms. Pyle?) So, up I pull to the NCRM. “Hmm. They turned an old hotel into a museum. How clever” I thought. Seriously folks. I see the wreath on the balcony. I STILL DON’T GET IT.
And then it happens again, a flood of sadness, anger, and shame. I walked through the museum crying again. Crying not just for the life hate took, but for the fact that I was so educated and yet so ignorant. “You can kill the dreamer, but you cannot kill the dream.” THIS i should have been taught in school.
- I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain. ~ John Adams