A gentle reminder ...

The goal of this blog initially was for Mr. Mc to show his students and friends what he doing while in Pennsylvania and DC in 2011. Now it's being used as a place for him, travelling colleagues and former students to discuss edumacation and history related "stuff" as well as ... well, anything which pops into his head. Mr. Mc would never knowingly embarrass either the school he loves or the family he is devoted to. By joining in the discussion, he expects the same of you.

Monday, June 23, 2014

"History is about the act of imagining things"

How to make Abraham Lincoln funny picture
Artist: Mike Mitchell (BTW-go to his website...talk about history as imagination!)
Day One of the Abraham Lincoln and the Forging a Modern America is in the books. One of the things I learned years ago at these is that we ask kids to sit for too long. The days where we are in a classroom all day can be grueling. Today was. Tomorrow is the trip to Springfield and New Salem and much more hands-on and interactive. Its the nature of the beast when you are on two sites.

The quote in the title was made by Dr. Iver Bernstein of Washington University. History is an act of imagination. I am intrigued. He is not suggesting scholarly investigation isn't necessary or that peer review isn't important, but he is saying that history is about uncovering, as best we can, what happened and why it might be important to them and to us.

History requires curiosity.

Students will tell you that I am far more interested in being curious than in being 'right'. I love the screwball questions which puts us on a whole new plane of thinking. I love the messiness that is history and I love that all the puzzle pieces aren't in the box (and that the picture on the box doesn't resemble the puzzle half the time).

Artist: Mike Mitchell
This afternoon, the thought that struck me is that we remake Lincoln in our own image every generation or so.
  • Lincoln as an quasi-deific creature.
  • Lincoln as the common man
  • Lincoln as the loyal scout/GI
  • Lincoln as the anti-communist
  • Lincoln as the fellow martyr
Part of the work this week is to disentangle ourselves from the myth of Lincoln. As I've read these past few weeks, I've had to confront that face to face. I like Lincoln and have a pretty solid working knowledge of his biography, but I didn't realize how much of 'my narrative' I give to Lincoln. As a teacher, that is a dangerous thing. My narrative becomes my student's narrative. That has bad written all over it.

I'm curious to see where this exploration takes us this week.

No comments:

Post a Comment