Friday, November 16, 2007

The Spirit of Thanksgiving

Just read this post on my morning blog perusal and had to share. Reason #437 why I homeschool.


Vanessa said...

Ick. I wouldn't like G to be made to do a project like that either. There's enough emphasis on business and commercialism in the world without forcing it on seven- and eight-year-olds.

However, I can top that with a tale of the most inappropriate school activity ever. I attended a five-year gifted magnet program in a public school district here in California, and in sixth grade, we did a semester-long unit on the Civil War. The entire sixth grade (three or four classes, so about 90-120 kids) was divided into "North" and "South," and instructed to earn points by completing various assignments, such as reading chapters in our Civil War book, taking quizzes, doing projects, etc. You could work ahead and also earn extra credit, which for a group of kids who tended to be both fast learners and highly competitive, was like dangling crack in front of addicts. At the end of the unit, all the points were tallied up; one side was declared the winner; and each student was assigned a role based on the number of points s/he had earned. (For example, if you were the highest point-earner on the Southern side, you were President Jefferson Davis, if you were a bit lower you might be Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson.)

But that's not the bad part. The bad part is that the grand finale to all this was "Civil War Day," on which we all dressed up in Civil War garb and held a slave auction in which the kids on the winning side got to "buy" the kids on the losing side, using the points they'd accumulated. After all the "slaves" had been paraded across the stage in the auditorium and bid upon, there was a picnic lunch at which the "slaves" had to sit by their "masters'" sides and serve them fried chicken, watermelon and potato salad.

Mind you, at the time I didn't realize how weird and inappropriate this was. I was the second- or third-highest-ranking general on the Northern side (we won) and I thought it was all lots of fun. When I look back on it, though, I cringe, especially when I think about how the one African-American kid in our grade must have felt about it. That was a regular feature of the sixth-grade curriculum, and I don't know how the school had managed to do it for multiple years without getting called on it -- if it had been 2007 instead of 1982, I'm sure someone would have protested, if not sued outright.

Jenny said...

Oh, MY! I remember slave auctions in jr high, but it was all volunteers (and usually had a lot to do with stupid popularity centered cliques) and had NOTHING to do with children not doing enough extra credit. That's just, um, yeah... gotta love the 80's.