Being a native of the Washington,D.C. area, and currently living 8 hours away in the South, I am a little homesick this weekend as the nation celebrates the 2nd inauguration of President Barack Obama, our 44th president.
You see, I have been been in the crowds for the past inaugurations of 3 other presidents (Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton) and have watched others on television. I love the excitement of the crowds (despite the often below freezing temperatures), the parties (especially the ball gowns) despite never having attend this part of the inauguration in person) and the feeling that regardless of whom we had cast our vote for, we were all Americans and in participating in this event, we were celebrating a new beginning for our country.
Unfortunately, I am afraid my 10 and 11 year old students will see tomorrow as little more than a reason to stay up late tonight playing video games and sleep late tomorrow, despite the fact that tomorrow is both the day of the inauguration and the day we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
And this really BOTHERS me. You see most of my students are African American. They also live in poverty. To me this is a an issue of great importance because I feel like as a white teacher, I can't teach them about the historic significance of these two event "good enough." And I wonder why when we studied the Roaring 20's in Social Studies a few weeks ago, only a handful knew where/what Harlem was when we talked about the Harlem Renaissance.
I know I am not alone in my concern that a generation of African American has and continues to lose touch with their heritage. And I also wonder that despite it not being a part of our state curriculum, if I need to spend a part of my Social Studies time this week talking about Dr. King and the reasons why we honor him each January with his own day. And also why the 2nd inauguration of President Obama is equally if not more, historically significant than his first inauguration. Don't get me wrong, they know who Barack Obama is. We talk him a lot. We spent a great deal of time talking about his platform last fall before the election (and gave equal time to the platform of Mitt Romney). But do they REALLY get it?
And nothing would have pleased me more than to have had the ability (along with the money) to load them all up on buses and trek North to Washington to see this inauguration in person (I will do this with a group of students before I retire, even if I have to pay for most of it out of my own pocket)! I know that most won't watch the hours of coverage on TV. In fact, if they come across it while channel surfing, I suspect most will turn the channel to Nickelodeon or more frighteningly, MTV, or pop in a video game.
So as I sit here preparing for the week ahead, I am trying to find ways to incorporate lessons (even if they end up being a few mini-lessons and some teachable moments) so that my students get a better understanding that this is their legacy, their future and they need to pay attention.
If you have any ideas that would help e out, I would greatly appreciate them. Just comment below or shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
As a side note...I am only 70 followers away from reaching my goal of a combined 400 followers on my blog and Twitter. I currently have 130 Twitter followers and 200 blog followers. When those combined numbers reach 350 I will announce the details of my planned giveaway. Stay tuned...and pass the word!!