Dare to Disagree
Maybe it is the way I’m wired, but I recently realized that I actively hold myself back from disagreeing with others – especially teachers, authority figures and books. Worse, in past years, I’ve taken what I read or heard from an authority figure as gospel, making decisions based on what others said.
That whole “you need to think for yourself” thing? Yeah…I really need to improve on that.
This was particularly driven home to me by the two books I’m reading simultaneously (in between writing assignments, editing a book, prepping for Emily’s birthday and party on Saturday, and all the other daily miscellany) – Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrongand Lies the Government Told You: Myth, Power, and Deception in American History.
Yes, I’m still on the lying kick.
The other day it came to a head as I sat there, thumbing through the book and eating breakfast. (Yes, I eat at the table and mumble back half-hearted answers when my little girl tries to talk to me.) I looked up from Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong and said, “You know what? I’m mad! I’m really, really mad!”
Emily looked worried. “Not at you, kiddo. I’m mad at my teachers and at a school board who had the audacity to lie to me and millions of children.”
“What did they lie about, Mom?” Emily asked, relieved I wasn’t mad at her.
“Those Pilgrims! They would sneak into Indian villages, rifle through their stuff when they weren’t there, steal their stores of food, and even rob the graves!”
Emily’s eyes got wide – “Why would they do that?” she asked.
What followed was a frank discussion about history – about the truths and the lies promoted in public school – and about my own concerns about providing a sugar-coated, glossy and far from complete view of our past. I won’t go so far as to say she understand all of my reasons for not wanting to teach her the sugar-coated version – but I hope that she will in time.
My fear is this…
After reading just a part of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, I’m horrified at my lack of knowledge. It sickens me that I am so intellectually lacking when it comes to history. Over and over, the same phrase keeps repeating in my head…
“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” – Edmund Burke
Now multiply my ignorance by a million-fold – because damn it, I know I’m not the only one who is lacking in historical knowledge.
Reading “Lies” (both of them), made up my mind. I cannot, in good conscience, perpetuate these lies. And since it is often a matter of lying through ignorance, I must learn/educate myself more, in order to guide Emily in a more comprehensive thoughtful direction. Once again, I find myself educating myself, in order to help guide her.
History doesn’t have to be a mindless regurgitation of the facts. Eventually she will learn that the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 – and all great and small facts like that – but what I want to do is give her a clear picture of where we came from, and how easily that can be lost, if we do not speak of the mistakes we have made in this nation (slavery, segregation, suppressing the right to vote for women, Japanese internment, how we treated the Native Americans, 19th and 20th century imperialism, and so much more).
Knowing history can allow us to push through the double-speak of politicians, to avoid voting for legislation that would further erode our rights as citizens, et cetera.
Imagine our country reborn – into thinking intelligent adults who aren’t distracted by the politically correct (or incorrect) shenanigans – who focus on voting on real issues that really affect them – who elect politicians who tell the truth (they must be out there somewhere). Call me Pollyanna, but I still believe it can happen. I believe we can be better than we are now.
Something to think about, folks.
LEARN Classes Today
I know I’ve said it already, but, march yourself down to Garrison Community Center today and sign up for LEARN classes. It’s worth it. The more the merrier, right?
Classes begin at 10am and I’m teaching a Back to Basics class at noon. Right now, three students are signed up, all adults, so there is plenty of room for interested teens and adults. Today we will be covering how to get started raising your own food crops and fresh herbs. Later weeks will cover organic gardening, making your own compost, upcycling/recycling, water conservation, chicken keeping, beekeeping and more.
I’m so excited to be taking Family Sign class and learning all about American Sign Language. I’m considering it a foreign language, which means that we are studying both Spanish and Sign. How cool is that?
You don’t have to be a member of LEARN to take classes (there is a small fee for non-LEARN members), so, seriously, get on down there!