What do you remember learning in school about the history of your town or state? Did it give you a sense of pride? Now that you’re older and wiser, have you discovered anything that was left out (but probably shouldn’t have been)? In this July 2021 essay in Bitter Southerner, freelance writer and Texas native Sarah Enelow-Snyder writes about her exciting seventh grade field trip to the Alamo in San Antonio along with her critique of the ways that history is (and isn’t) taught in school.
Read it here.
EXPLORE, REFLECT, SPEAK UP.
1. In her closing paragraph, Enelow-Snyder states that in order to teach “a fuller version of history, we would have to assert that we were sometimes on the wrong side of it.” What does she mean by this statement? What arguments does she present in her essay to support the assertion? How effective are her arguments? Explain the reasons behind your response.
2. Enelow-Snyder’s essay includes a description of the current debates surrounding what is commonly known as “critical race theory,” and she summarizes the principal positions taken in the discourse about the issue. How fairly does she treat all of the positions in the debate? How accurately? How did you arrive at your conclusion? Explain your reasoning, and point to specific examples from the essay to support your ideas, and feel free to draw on additional resources to support your ideas.
3. LET’S TALK. According to Enelow-Snyder and her interviewee, middle school students have their own conversations outside of the classroom about racism and sexism. What about you? Whether it happened long ago or more recently, when you were the age of US middle school students (from approximately 10-13 years old), do you remember talking about racism, sexism, or any other large-scale social conditions with your friends and classmates? Talk with a few classmates about your memories and experiences. Based on what you say and hear, how ready do you think students of that age are for making the rite of passage of “learning the whole truth”?
4. AND NOW WRITE. Although Enelow-Snyder doesn’t say this in so many words, we are part of history, all of us. Events that happened to you and around you during your childhood are now being taught (or not) to today’s children in their history classes. Where do you, personally, fit into history? And how have you been shaped by the history that happened a year, or a decade, or a generation before your birth? What have you learned from other sources and experiences that was left out of the history you learned in school? Reflect on these questions, and then write an essay that addresses these three questions: What do you think the children of today should be learning about history? What “whole truth” would you like them to know? Why?