I’ve had the chance over the last week to work with a wide grade range of teachers, talking about how we can train our kids to think historically. We talked about a variety of things, including the idea of using fiction / non-fiction and historical context as part of your instruction.
And I just found out this morning that the conversation could have been so much better. Why? Because I was missing What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song. What So Proudly We Hailed came out last spring but I just found out about it this morning. It would have been a perfect example of the types of resources that are available out there in the wild for us to use with kids.
The Meaning of America is a new curriculum for civic education. It is based on our anthology, What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song, which takes a literary approach to making citizens—one centering on stories and supplemented by great public speeches and patriotic songs.
How can we produce citizens who are thoughtfully and knowledgeably attached to our country, devoted to its ideals, and eager to live an active civic life? Studying our documents and learning our history can surely help. But stories are, in our view, even better. We need to furnish our imaginations with true stories of American heroes, stories that inspire emulation and the pride of kinship with those who have nobly gone before—the stories of Washington and Lincoln, of Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King, Jr. But we also can benefit greatly from fictional stories that not only inspire but also instruct. By giving us characters to identify with, stories provide concrete mirrors for self-discovery and self-examination. At their best, they shed light on the complexities of our situation and educate the sentiments in a richer and more sophisticated way.
The Meaning of America is a great site with lesson plans, teaching suggestions and resources that uses a small chunk of the book’s content. It gives you a sense of the kinds of things you can do through the use of fiction and non-fiction content. I’ve got the full book coming and will give you a review once it shows up.
The added extra bonus?
The EDSITEment people will be showcasing the book and lessons throughout the year at their site. And you already know that anything EDSITEment does is quality so be sure to head over there.