So much of what I am about to say is going to come across as insensitive or uncaring to people’s feelings… Both of which are true. If you do not know how I truly feel, and think that my words are too mean or uncouth, I really don’t care.
Let me start with the story… Some of you have seen the picture floating around social media about the school where the assignment was given for the students to present the pros and cons of life as a slave.
Now, I’ll agree that on the surface this sounds bad. And perhaps the assignment wasn’t properly worded, but here’s the thing: my daughter goes to one of the campuses of this school. This is a school that has a classic education curriculum, and whose curriculum is very advanced by modern American standards.
This school teaches our kids critical thinking skills.
Before I move forward, I want to repeat that…CRITICAL. THINKING. SKILLS.
We as a society have been complaining for a long time that millennials are lacking critical thinking skills, but parents are so quick to find any little thing to complain about and attempt to mold our kids’ education into what only they deem appropriate.
Now I want you to think on that concept for a moment as well… Parents only want their kids taught what they want their kids to learn. Not the facts. So I’m going to ask the question: do you want your kids taught what to think? Or do you want them to be taught to think, and how to approach determining an answer?
We need to be able to understand our own bias as we proceed with life. Critical thinking skills teach us how to do this, or at the very least, gives us a starting point. We need to see how our bias informs our decision-making ability. We need to understand that not everyone has our same experiences, nor do they draw from their experiences in the same way we do.
Back to the issue at hand. I want to show you that I practice what I preach. My daughter, who attends one of the campuses of that same school in question, came home with homework where an interesting question was offered. Now, I’m paraphrasing here, but the question was “Was it moral for the Europeans to come to the new world and claim land that was already inhabited by natives?”
You might be thinking that’s not the same thing. So allow me to illuminate this for you. I am a card-carrying member of the Cherokee Nation of Tahlequah. And yes, I can prove it. I could easily find a question like that unsettling, but instead of going off about the question and why it was being given to my third grader (keep in mind that the slavery question was offered to 8th grade, where the level of thinking expected is much higher), I instead decided to make it a teaching moment.
Many of you have spoken with me and learned about my passion for ancient culture. That includes mythology from all over the world, theology, belief systems, and the cultures that embraced them and why. As such, I speak often to the fact that we, in our current world and American way of thinking, which is incredibly…mind numbing… have the luxury of being armchair quarterbacks.
What does this mean? This means that I spoke with my daughter about the different points of view. The Europeans thought what they were doing was moral. They thought it was ordained by God. The heathenistic Indians were not people, they were only savages and should be eradicated so they could take the land and claim it for the one true God. Sure, it sounds stupid to us now… But put yourself there, in the footsteps of the settlers? You’re human, and you’re afraid, as all humans are, of anything that is different than you.
Again, I’ll let you think on that a moment.
Was it moral? To the Europeans, absolutely it was. To the natives? Not so much. But even today, what I see a lot of is that natives are not taken seriously. So in this we haven’t learned a thing. But we LOVE to talk a big game, don’t we?
So now I get to the slavery assignment. Perception, people. Critical thinking skills. Was there anything right about slavery? Truth be told, it depends on what side of history we die. The Hebrews were enslaved in the Bible a lot. The Jews during the Holocaust were both interned and enslaved. The slave trade has ALWAYS been a part of human advancement (although the current human trafficking/ slave trade doesn’t show me any advancement, only regression of the mind).
I would argue that while I am ultimately glad the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted, the more I’ve learned of the after-effects, I wonder if Lincoln did not fail the prior slaves. Let’s look at this honestly, the death toll for blacks increased exponentially in the years following the Emancipation Proclamation, for slaves were no longer looked at as property, and therefore had lost all of their value. If this statement upsets you, you’re not looking at it from the perspective of the time, you’re looking at it from our current comfortable position all these years and movements later.
America was built on blood. A lot of blood. To say anything else is trying to sugarcoat the facts. However, we also need our kids to make these decisions for themselves, to see for themselves the issues and why these things are so bad.
The assignment was to offer a balanced perspective. I don’t think there is one. And perhaps that is also part of the point. From the eyes of the slave of the time, which we truly can’t put ourselves into, what were some positives that we could attempt to extrapolate? Even the slaves had a hierarchy within the slave system. There were slaves who had made it high enough to garner the trust of the owners, some were those exacting the punishments on their fellow slaves. Whipping them, doing what was needed to keep them in line.
Who was wrong? Who was right? At the end of the day, every person is selfish. Every person looks out only for themselves. Once in a while we will find common ground and join forces to make a change for the better of society, but once that is done, we have a tendency to forget, and then we as a people move on with life, on our own, apart from those who had helped to shape ours.
At the end of the day, I want my daughters asked the tough questions, and I want them to find the answers for themselves. ALL of the answers. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Because it is only through all of the answers that we find the truth through the lies.
I posted a couple of videos to Facebook earlier. One about California and their laws during the gold rush era to get paid for Native scalps. And then the federal government paying all that to California (you know it was as a thank you for doing their job for them, money well spent in their eyes). The other video was about the nature of mankind and how they divide themselves into Us vs Them… If you didn’t see these videos, please do.
My goal in all of this is not to be preachy, although that’s exactly how it sounds, but to try and educate. So go, learn, and educate yourself, and then do yourself a favor and stop getting in the way of your kids learning. We need our kids to be able to think critically again. So stop filling their heads with stupidity or PC rhetoric, and LET THEM COME TO THEIR OWN DAMNED CONCLUSIONS. Let our kids be intelligent, for the love of a future we may never know since we’re already in a world beset by idiocy.
And please, PLEASE, stop being afraid of anything different. Different is NOT your enemy.
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