Friday, January 18, 2008

Already 18 days into January, impossible!

Hi All-

Sorry that I missed you all at the meeting in December. I am really excited to be part of this group and have enjoyed reading all of your thoughts so far.

The first week in December, I had the opportunity to visit Charleston, South Carolina and visit a huge elementary school. I was struck by many differences while visiting down there, and one included any social studies related information displayed in their hallways.

As it was South Carolina, when I passed a bulletin board about the Revolutionary War, I was interested to see that Francis Marion ("The Swamp Fox") was prominently displayed as an important figure. Francis Marion is someone that I don't even talk about anymore since the revision of the Frameworks. He might only come up in conversation with students who have seen the movie, "The Patriot". That got me thinking about the true importance of some people, and mistakes and myths often associated with famous figures in history.

I would love to recommend to you, two excellent books that I had the opportunity to read in the TAH bookclubs. The first book club was read last year and was titled "Founding Myths". It was written by Ray Raphael. As a teacher of American History at any level, this book will blow your mind. Raphael uses tons of evidence to dispel many of the things that we teach, and proclaims them myth. There are specific chapters on beloved figures such as Paul Revere and "Molly Pitcher" , and even places and battles like Valley Forge and Bunker Hill.

I would also recommend to people the book that we just completed for our most recent TAH read. This book ,"Revolutionary Mothers, also focused on somewhat mythical women of the Revolution, but also gave excellent background information on little discussed female groups, like African-American and Native American perspectives. In just one year, both of these books have reshaped my thoughts and approaches to the teaching of the American Revolution.

The opportunity to be part of these book clubs has been phenomenal. Last year, the group was comprised of teachers in grades 3-12. It was an amazing privilege to spend time with, and get to know my colleagues at middle school and high school. Such amazing conversations of students and history was had (and a lot of laughs too).

If people have not had the chance to be part of these groups, I encourage all to participate next year.

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