An eighth-grade teacher at San Francisco’s Creative Arts Charter School brought cotton plants in to show her class the sharp edges of the shrubs while teaching about slavery in the U.S., as well as the cotton gin and its impact on enslavement and the Industrial Revolution.
The social studies teacher, who is not being named by The San Francisco Chronicle, was not at school for five weeks after the controversial lesson, which was investigated within 24 hours of the incident. The report says that the school would not confirm if the teacher’s absence was due to a suspension.
The best history teacher I ever had and the one responsible for me to actually like the subject, was one that forsake the traditional ways of memorizing dates, people and events and immersed us in the times we were studying. We made us research (via the newspapers of the time we were involved with) what was to be a normal person then. How much things cost, how much the average person made, how travel was made, what kind of health care was available, what do people die of, etc. It made us find context and realize the importance of any even we were studying.
This is what this apparently punished teacher was doing. I have seen cotton plants in film and photos, but never touched one so even if it does take a lot of imagination to figure out the frigging thorns and sharp edges would hurt, it is not the same as actually manipulating the darn thing to feel the consequences of manipulating it. I bet those kids that got to touch the shrubs, will see slavery in a very new and powerful light.
But there is always one woke fly in the ointment:
A Creative Arts parent, Rebecca Archer, who is Black and Jewish, was concerned about the lesson for her mixed-race children. She expressed fears that the lesson, which put the raw cotton in the children’s hands, could “evoke so many deeply hurtful things about this country.”
“There are people who think this lesson plan promotes empathy; I’ve heard that and understand that,” said Archer. “There are a lot of people who don’t understand why it’s hurtful or offensive.”
Somewhere in the last half a century, the idea that lessons (all kinds) must be soft, cuddly and harmless has taken possession of the people’s brains. We must be careful not to hurt anybody’s sensibilities and must avoid or rewrite history to do so. Of course, Life does not give a damn about how you feel and provides very hurtful events that you could have avoided if you were taught properly. Santayana was right and History does repeat itself because there are new generations that need to be taught the hard, painful and deadly way.
Hat Tip Royko