6 thoughts on “Connecting to Regional History

  1. Ashanka-

    I have to agree with you on your analysis of “Rosewood Township” and the idea that you wouldn’t want to live that way. When reading that piece, one of my side notes on the paper was how I must have become more suburban as I’ve aged because the description of Gruchow out in the summer kitchen, waking up in the freezing cold, but loving the simplicity of his life, was like a foreign language to me. I couldn’t appreciate that, even though I do love living “in the country” and have a farming family.

    I too liked the issues brought up by “A City Too Busy to Reflect.” Like you, I would love to be able to show my students that things aren’t perfect (even in Elkhorn) and that there are ideas that some people there would have dissension with. I’m not sure if I have any good ideas on how to overcome some of the issues addressed though, especially with students not wanting to be “controversial” or seen as difficult. Of course, I have also, interestingly, had the opposite happen in some of our class discussions during persuasive units where there is one student (there’s always one, right?) that feels the need to argue some side of an idea/issue just to be difficult and just to make the others uncomfortable. I don’t think that those types of discussions help to breed understanding in anyone, so that is another thorn to consider.

    -Amy

    1. Thanks for our comment, Amy. I am also perplexed at how to deal with students who may not want to deal with the controversial. I suppose it would have to be part of the rubric in some clever way where we aren’t forcing students to do it, but leading them in the direction to do so. I know I have issues discussing controversial topics unless they relate to me in some significant way, so I can understand why some students don’t want to discuss these topics, but perhaps the best strategy is to have them bring up their own controversial topics, since I would imagine they could relate to the ones they themselves bring up. I’m not sure if this the best approach of course.

  2. I enjoyed your response this week. You brought up two ideas that really struck me. I, too, think it is important to bring up controversial topics in the classroom, but we have to be so careful these days. I teach a persuasive unit in Oral Communication so we work on the correct approach of addressing such topics. It becomes a detailed lesson because they mostly want to argue just to argue without knowing the “history” or facts behind the issue. I think too many times these days we worry about the consequences of discussing controversial topics, so it is easier to keep our hands out of the fire, on the high school level anyway. However, I feel this is doing a disservice to our students. If we think about our readings over the last few weeks, it becomes obvious that if we expect students to be active and informed members of society, we cannot keep them sheltered from the events that are happening around them and directly affect who they are. I was amazed at a conversation that came up in class just yesterday. A student asked me if I thought the government would really shut down. Half of the class got riled up because they had no idea what was going on. This led to a discussion of how often they watch the news per week. Needless to say, many of them have no exposure to the news, outside of what they learn in the classroom.

    I think I am one of those people who would make you cringe. I want to go see the world, but being almost 50, I find myself afraid of the unknown, technology included. I am more like your mom; I find myself so rooted that I am afraid to explore. I still make my mom’s farm meals, and the younger teacher’s at work make fun of me because I iron my t-shirts, etc. I don’t know if it is because I lost my mom at a young age and I want to keep her memory alive or if I am so adapted to “farm life” that I don’t want to change. I found Gruchow’s narrative interesting because I basically lived his life. My mom and I sat the hay bails on fire while we were burning trash. We carried buckets of water from the barn across the farm, putting off calling the fire department because dad was a member. We had to cave in and call. Luckily, dad was the understanding land owner Gruchow referenced. And the stories go on and on. I do admire those of you who are worldly and hope to learn more about the world from you.

    1. Shari,
      Thanks for your response. I agree that we do need to be vary of the types of controversial topics we discuss! I can definitely see where problems would arise.

      I also admire you for sticking to your roots. I don’t think it’s necessary for every single person to share my worldly views, because then too many people would be the same, and I think the world would boring if we all shared the same thoughts. =)

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