“Our Army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do, and at Fort McHenry, under the rocket’s red glare it had nothing but victory” (Donald Trump, 4th Of July, 2019)
As a past American History Teacher in urban middle schools, I often taught with the idea of transforming my class from one of passive recital of textbook facts into an exciting quest for self learning discovery. Yet I also faced then the challenging task of providing daily lessons to an inner city clientele who lacked basic comprehension/vocabulary skills. Without these learning fundamentals, they often struggled to make sense of the true complexities of historical understanding such as cause/effect, fact vs. opinion, and the powerful influence of biased reasoning. As the school year progressed, however, with basic skill attainment, I would discover that my students learned to question past events more critically.
From a learning perspective then, our President’s speech effort on the Fourth of July to force feed “ wrong U.S. History to Americans seems at first glance egregiously dumb. For in spite of the mindful efforts of his staff to provide a smooth teleprompter delivery, he found ample time to “spin” false tales of our nation’s past in grandiose proportions. Let us however consider his loose play of facts with regard to America’s aviation presence during the Revolutionary War serves as a provocative class lesson plan. I thus might inspire some interesting student reactions by posing the following questions.
1. What airport should have George Washington and his troops landed to insure victory at Valley Forge?
2. Did he need to fly first class then? Why or why not?
3. Why did soldiers ride horses in the era of airplane travel during the Revolutionary War?
4. Why were airport tarmacs key locations of battle in these colonial times?
5. Why might George Washington need to fly only in window seats during his diplomatic missions during the American Revolution?
6. How were British planes shot down by U.S. patriots during the Revolutionary War?
7. Who might have made the airplanes for the colonial cause then?
8. What cities became most vulnerable to British air invasions in colonial times?
9. What was Benjamin Franklin’s most celebrated invention for aerospace travel in the late 18th century?
10. What battle strategies would colonial pilots likely have employed at Yorktown to end this war?
As a follow up to this amusing scenario, imagine a similarly enlightened 8th grade class today offering a warm invite to our President to share his keen historical interest in our country by visiting their school. A key component of this invitation would be a request for him to lead the student/teacher populace in singing a rousing version of the U.S. National Anthem and Pledge Of Allegiance.
Under the present circumstances of this current administration, which of the following statements would be his most likely response to the school regarding acceptance of this invitation?
a. Surely , I’d be glad to be there in person.
b. Maybe, I need to check with my lawyers.
c. No, I have a golf game that day.
d. Possibly, I will check about my broken teleprompter.
e. Definitely if I can bring Sean Hannity with me.