Teaching History In Proper Perspective

The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” (George Orwell)

 

Ms. Gloria, as a recently hired teacher at Lovelawn High School savored her first opportunity to make American History truthful and relevant to the struggling lives of her South Side Chicago students. So when she got the message at the beginning of the school year from the school principal that she needed to introduce a new Social Studies teaching curriculum for her 11th grade classes, understandably she became quite concerned. For this idealistic instructor would now be required to follow an executive order from the President of the United States that strict adherence to his “Make America Great Again” message should now be the primary emphasis of teaching pedagogy for all s social studies teachers in U.S. primary and secondary schools As a result, she would be advised to modify her yearly curriculum to “spin” more positive views of past American conflicts of race, ethnicity, gender, and religion.

So Ms. Gloria wondered at first about how to modify her lesson plans accordingly. But how could she teach her upcoming Civil War unit without including the damaging effects of the southern slave culture in 1861-1865? Or when it became time to present American involvement in other controversial events of interest, what sense would it have made to downplay the human tragedies experienced at the Cherokee Trail of Tears, Hiroshima nuclear bomb blast or the Vietnam Mai Lai massacre?

In addition, Ms. Gloria fearfully pondered the prospect that such radical alterations to her history curriculum would most likely lead to classroom management chaos in the classroom. What could she do to pacify those students who wanted her to present relevant material about African slavery as a result of the “Black Lives Matter” protests in their neighborhoods? How might they react when their music videos and social media postings could now be censored in the classroom? To what extent as well could she ignore teaching alleged white racist incidents of the past when the President’s angry personality escalated such interpersonal tensions daily? How physically and emotionally capable would she be to stop multiracial melees inside her classroom when she sold out her curriculum” to the “white establishment” world?

So as the year progressed, Ms. Gloria would find great difficulty in compromising her teaching methods for the sake of this false masquerade of Presidential propaganda. It would therefore be no surprise that she would begin receiving daily reminders on the intercom from her principal to shape up and teach American History more as ordered in the “Great America” way. So as her self-respect as a teacher thus gradually began to wane, she would begin thinking of resignation in order to find a more positive line of work.

One spring day as afternoon classes ended, a shooting took place on school grounds. Ms. Gloria soon heard that one of her best students, Ramon, had been been seriously injured by a stray bullet after mistakingly walking into the crossfire of a white vs. black gang fight. As her anger about this racially fueled incident grew, while Ramon was fighting for his life in a local hospital, Ms. Gloria would now make a logical decision to move forward in pursuing a career change in the immediate future. For she would realize the futility of continuing to teach in an educational system that “sugarcoated” past events in history to falsely depict life as easier than it really was.

Ms. Gloria’s resignation from teaching at the end of the school year consequently could only be expected. Her passion for providing relevant and truthful solutions to her students lives as a history teacher would now benefit her greatly as she worked “double time” on her own to develop a popular podcast titled “Gloria’s Good Old Glory”. As the marketing appeal of her podcast audience exploded within a year, she would follow this accomplishment with a successful, “grass roots” run for State Representative in the U.S. Congress. Living her life now without past regret, Gloria’s luck had finally improved in her own way.

Nature’s Distancing Does Matter

“Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better. “ (Albert Einstein)

As the Presidential election in November, 2020 nears, America remains deeply divided about the seriousness of the Corona pandemic problem. In this fictional account, I reveal how the wonders of “Mother Nature” might offer some fresh insight for those skeptics who continue to believe that “social distancing” now does not matter.

On a typically overcast, late afternoon during the current Corona pandemic, President Maxwell Limore, again spurned the idea of covering his face or practicing social separation from others. For his weekend agenda at his vast beachfront estate would be highlighted by a mask-less golf game followed by a crowded, face to face chat in the resort club with his favored, fund raising cronies. If only he had observed more mindfully the importance of physical distancing as he casually glanced at the  growths of his “ Live Oak” trees lining the fairways of his extraordinary golf course property.

So as our executive leader shanked his drives from the tee into the “rough” on three of the first eight holes, his face scowled at the prospect of hitting partially obstructed shots behind these mighty tree specimens. As a competitive golfer, most assuredly he would plan his next golf swings on these three holes as he eyed any gaps between tree branches to the green. Yet he would not comprehend that those natural distances between trees largely determined why the dense foliage adjacent to these fairways made his golf course so beautifully alive here. For a great many of the surrounding plant species in this vicinity would have benefited by the added sunlight to circulate more oxygen from photosynthesis as a result of the physical separation in these trees. So why was our fearless leader at this pivotal moment losing his focus on golf then to complain wildly to others in his entourage? Most likely, I imagine, he would be seething then about the latest lawsuit currently proceeding against him by a “Go-Green” advocate neighbor whose alleged litigation accused the President of building his golf course on “beachfront protected” land.

President Limore’s opportunity to observe the distancing of tree space was also wasted on hole nine that day when he simply chose to ignore his errant tee shot into these oaks and instead play his game with a newly placed golf ball along the “fairway”. Yet if he had actually taken the time to walk toward the actual location of this shot, he might have noticed another natural benefit provided to his golf course. For disease carrying trails of insect and their destructive leaf eating habits would become less of a problem on his golf course amid nature‘s physical separation of trunks/branches from tree from tree. Yet our fearless leader questionably chose in that error- filled moment to spot an easier cheat shot to the green.

With the weather growing increasingly stormy that day as he teed up for hole ten, our chronically distracted President recalled the landscape damage to his golf course during hurricane season the previous summer. Yet his memories about the destruction of this calamity would fail to acknowledge the positive impact of his trees being physically distanced in space from each other. For this natural phenomenon likely had lessened  the wind damage to his golf course greenery from flying twig and branch collisions. Of puzzling concern as well at this moment of past hurricane reflection, why would he instead be boasting to others then that dying his hair black or blonde would improve his prospects for re-election to the Presidency?

So as the winds picked up at 5:00 pm. with an imminent thunderstorm approaching on the “back nine” of the course, a suddenly concerned President Limore would hustle away with his entourage from the 10th hole tee to the seemingly safer confines of a nearby tent canopy. Without warning then, a lightning bolt would shoot rapidly down from the sky and violently strike an empty picnic table situated no more than three feet from the President’s current standing position. As our great leader cringed with ego filled fear for his own safety amid the smoke filled air, he would suddenly recognize for the first time in his reality show Presidency that social distancing vitally mattered. If you desire to know more about the benefits of tree separation, known as “Crown Shyness”, I urge you to watch the You Tube video below.

Reference Source: http://www.treehugger.com

 

 

 

Tribal Justice Well Served

“It gives me pleasure to announce to Congress that the policy of the government, steadily pursued for thirty years, in relation to the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements is approaching to a happy consummation.” (President Andrew Jackson)

The following fictional story features a modern reflection about the “Trail of Tears” tragedy  in 1830s America. When the federal government implemented a policy of forceful removal of Cherokee Indians and other tribes from their sacred homelands to expand white settlement westward, more than 4,000 Indians died of hunger, cold, and disease along this arduous route west to reach harsh prairies of resettlement in present day Oklahoma.

As Jason took notice of so many Cherokee tourist stands as he passed through this dusty rural town in Northern Georgia, he condemned this crass display of these cheap souvenir trinkets that were not telling the real truth about his people. For he became repulsed at the misleading idea that the tragic legacy of the Cherokee nation could be exploited negatively for profit by a toy tomahawk, a colorful headdress, or a plastic snow globe enclosing a fierce warrior figure. For Jason had heard the sad stories about the “Trail of Tears” forced exodus of his Cherokee Indians descendants westward during the white expansionist, “land grab” era of President Andrew Jackson’s reign. He would therefore not stay idle and just tolerate the agony of his ancestors pain. For he would stay awhile in this small town that had grown around the site of original Cherokee settlement and volunteer at the local history museum there to actively promote the true goodness of his people for others to fully understand.

Possessing a Masters Degree in History, Jason felt highly qualified to be up to this task. For in possessing a true love for seeking past truths, he would thus tirelessly work with the curator of the museum for the next two years to present authentic evidence to museum visitors about how his proud nation managed to survive amidst such catastrophic conditions. He would possess no tribal records of individuals displaced during that time. Yet he would retell their stories of good and evil that have inspired generations of Cherokee to survive. He would not share any legal documents of proof through deeds or treaties that insured the Cherokees their rights to settle on these Georgian homelands. But he could display their unique artwork designs that inspired them with spiritual protection amid the natural beauty of these surrounding environs. There would be no written letters from that period to present of Cherokee adherence to American laws and customs. Yet he could sing their morning love songs that inspired civilized rules of living through building close clan/family connections.

So without exhibiting a tinge of jealousy for his white conquerors who had possessed the great power to coerce his people, Jason’s creative exhibits to revive memories of Cherokee glory soon became the most popular tourist attraction in town. But on one unusual summer morning, the museum’s historic mission had radically changed. For Jason and other guides had met with the museum curator, curious to find out about the contents of five boxes of election campaign flyers/buttons  that had been recently placed in the museum entrance lobby. Each object had conspicuously read, “Support Donald Trump: Make America Great Again.” They were soon advised at this encounter that the town mayor had called the curator to request that Jason and other employees there distribute these tokens in mass to town residents by mail and to museum visitors in person during the weeks ahead leading to the election.

Jason now wondered how this this museum’s high standards to serve truthful reflections of the past could be abandoned in the face of this obvious ploy of racist tinged, political propaganda! His suddenly overtaxed brain revived new thoughts about the horrors of white privilege that had so cruelly wreaked havoc on the Cherokee spirit. So late one evening, Jason would courageously circle around the fire to honor his ancestors who performed this ritual to find strength in enduring their struggles with the white man before. For as he had chosen to ignite this gloriously blazing fire to extinguish each box of racist political tokens forever in the quiet of night, he realized that fair retribution for his people against white racism had been justifiably accomplished.

Source: https://www.britannica.com/event/Trail-of-Tears

For those of you who wish to know more about the history of Cherokee Indian injustice, click on the short, You Tube video below.

No Time To Wait

When you are feeling anxious, remember that you are still you. You are not your anxiety. “ (Deanne Reich)

What happens when a close family relationship disappears amid risk-filled rebellion in today’s turbulent political times? In this fictional story, an anticipated reunion of a progressive minded son with his old-fashioned father leads to a surprisingly positive result.

Ronald realized how nervous he would be in finally facing his elderly father whose strong embrace of ultra conservative values in Georgia would undoubtedly remain unchanged. Yet it seemed that this was no time to act as a passive bystander in delaying this encounter because of his anxiety filled fears. For pride in his chosen destiny to travel around the world to embrace the “Bernie Movement”, “Black Lives Matter,” and “ Go Green Environmentalism” now called upon this left wing activist son to visit him before the demons of time cast his father’s mortal body away to ashes.

Deep questions of uncertainty now arose in his mind as he planned this momentous encounter. How would a father that he knew before as a deeply Christian man, deeply set in his conservative ways react to meeting his son again after his AWOL disappearance from going home in the past five years? Would he angrily reject his son’s presence wondering why he had escaped his moral responsibilities to his loving wife and needy children? How could Ronald as well justify to him why he had abandoned a promising career as an accountant which to his father represented as the best shot for his son to attain the “American Dream”? Would he even understand his son’s emotional fervor of joining a revolutionary youth movement advocating radical agitation and risk of arrest to achieve equality for all?

So Ronald thought it best to show himself to him anew in person by way of a casual encounter during his expected ritual of attending early mass at the cathedral that Sunday. For amid these sacred religious surroundings, he envisioned a way to soften the blow to his father’s testy ego upon being seen by him again in this unexpected return. So when the hammer struck ten as the service began, Ronald would wait for the expected sounds of joyful choral singing inside. He would then enter the interior unnoticed and hope for the best that he would not endure his father’s loud cursings.

So as Ronald warily showed up for church that morning to ‘own up” to his abandonment of family, his father’s no-show that day from service then took him by surprise. For so many worshippers then would express praise to Ronald that  his seventy  five year “young” father would serve as a missionary of the church and volunteer on his own time to serve humans of desperate need now in downtrodden countries abroad. It seemed then like a parakeet finding new freedom from being released from the cage, his father in his absence today had just taught Ronald this inspiring lesson. There’s no time in life to waste sitting around. So go ahead and pursue your life’s calling as a “do good”, global activist while you can. Are you in?

http://www.anxietypanichealth.com, “Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder”, 2016

Case Study In Cultural Awareness

 “How do we create a harmonious society out of so many kinds of people? The key is tolerance – – the one value that is indispensable in creating community.” (Barbara Jordan)

As a former professor of English Second Language classes, I vividly recall those international students I taught who endured numerous hardships in attempting to master English language competence in a competitive University setting. The following fictional story thus dramatizes the struggle of Maryan, a shy female pupil, originally from Iran, who would face insurmountable cultural barriers to succeed in Reading Lab because of her Islamic background.

Next to the holy mosque, the Reading Lab on campus seemed to Maryam these days as the most important place in her life. For as a young, second year student, her practice of ESL reading/writing skills in this isolated setting seemed to be a vital step toward obtaining her Microbiology degree at this esteemed institution of learning. So each weeknight at 5:00 pm, Maryam would dutifully put in her three hours of Reading Lab time on campus after working all day as a part-time, office delivery person to master the challenging lab time requirements of her course syllabus.

Everything seemed to be working well for Maryam throughout the college term until she experienced for the first time at Midterm,  the stern presence of Ms. Croft as the new night coordinator of the Reading Lab. For in taking her accustomed seat in the first row at the front of the room night after night, Maryan sensed gradually that Ms. Croft exhibited a distinct dislike for her as an Islamic worshipping individual. She began to ponder why Ms. Croft would address her every night as Mary Ann rather than show more respect for her given Muslim name. She also wondered for what purpose was she commanded to remove her Arab head scarf while in the lab and place it along with other personal belongings she carried under the coordinator’s front desk table before beginning each session. Maryam particularly objected as well to being told by Ms. Croft that her sacred Qur’an book that she normally took everywhere, could not be kept at her desk to read as it helped her to relax between challenging grammar lessons.

As “crunch time” proceeded inside the Reading Lab trenches during week 14 of the academic term, sudden tragedy struck Maryam’s life. For on this particular Tuesday night as Ms. Croft casually talked on the front counter telephone, Maryam took a lab violation risk of removing her shoes under her lab carrel to ease her pain from a foot injury she had experienced  three hours ago after standing all day at work. Suddenly a passing male student grabbed one of these shoes and flung it deliberately at the currently distracted Ms. Croft. Hoping to avoid scrutiny of his actions, he then immediately fled to a desk hidden from Ms. Croft’s view at the back of the room. Campus Security were called in immediately to investigate the incident. Ms. Croft reported to them then that she suspected that Maryam, who she indicated in fact was the shoe wearer in this case, would be a likely culprit to accuse for inciting this act of violent misbehavior. She also related to them that Maryam had shown negligent violation of current lab policies tonight by taking off her shoes. Sadly, there were no student bystanders in the lab that night willing to come forward to defend Maryam and point out the real culprit in the actual throwing of the shoe.

In spite of Maryam’s desperate pleas of her innocence in this matter, Ms. Croft was granted the right by the Reading Department Chairperson the next morning to ban her from attendance in the Reading Lab for the remainder of the term. Feeling embittered by thoughts of experiencing such cultural shame and negative impact on her current coursework efforts, Maryam would make the decision soon after the end of the semester to drop out of college. It seemed that she had persuaded herself that striving toward the heights of English competence made little sense to her anymore.

A reasonable conclusion can be made that Maryam did not deserve such an unjust fate in the Reading Lab. For based on her actions on that disastrous night, to what extent had she been wrongfully treated by others at this college simply because her cultural persona was different than theirs? How might you then go about building new bridges of cultural diversity awareness in this divisive time of racial/ethnic confusion?

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