For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
- Romans 15:4
The following post is a copy of a Facebook post by my niece, Audra Odom, a retired history teacher, who lives in Mississippi and has taught in Mississippi and Scotland. My niece is a wonderful human being. As she said over the phone, it is against all Christian reasoning to think that one person should own another person, but we are still living with the aftermath of that horrible chapter in American history ever since. I wrote “Mississippi Strong?” yesterday. My niece might have suggested that I do more research, but…
The featured photo is of our wedding reception, where the little girl, barely able to see over the table in the photo, our flower girl, wrote the following…
“okay… history teacher talking here, and this may take a while, but…
“Please, no one beat yourself up for not having heard about Juneteenth until recently. I heard about it as a kid, but I grew up in SW TX, and it was taught as part of Texas history. Did I have a progressive teacher? I don’t know. Maybe or maybe it was part of the established curriculum. If you did NOT grow up in Texas, you probably did not hear about it in school. You might have heard the word Juneteenth, but not know to what it referred, That’s okay. Be open to learning about it NOW.
“One of the things that everyone needs to keep in mind is that there is only so much time in any given school year to get a set of information across — whether you are talking biology, math, English, Spanish, history, whatever. There is only so much time, period. Add into that time frame that certain things are part of the education-board (at whatever level) mandate that have to be taught/talked about/introduced/explained/mastered/whatever. Those things HAVE to be taught.
“Another thing to keep in mind is that, in the States anyway, history and social subjects are seen as relatively unimportant — if you have to cut something in the lower grades or give it short shrift, why not just cut out some history/social studies time? (I mean, heaven forbid that in teaching people to read and understand what they read that you might choose historical topics for that purpose — literacy across the curriculum, but I digress). Some people will not have had very much in the way of social studies until they get into middle school, and some don’t get much until junior high. There is not really time set aside in lower grades for things like reports or independent study on various topics — gotta worry about those tests…
“In the state of Mississippi (which is the only US state in which I have taught), in order to graduate from high school, the student must have three and 1/2 Social Studies credits; including World History, U.S History, U.S Government (.5 credit), Economics (.5 credit) and Mississippi Studies (.5 credit). World History and US History are year-long courses. World History might as well be Western Civilization because very little is talked about anywhere but Europe and parts of Africa, and you can really only hit the highlights there. US history in high school starts after the American Revolution and races pell-mell to the end of World War 2 — if the teacher can and the class cooperates, they might even get to touch on the space race, Korea, Vietnam, the 60s, and the Civil Rights movement — but both of these are survey courses — there is little scope or time to get in-depth into anything.
“From the way some people talk about government involvement and what should and should not be done, it’s pretty darn obvious YOU weren’t paying attention in civics or government class… That needs to be addressed as well. People need to understand the way government in their country works — there are any manner of flow charts and diagrams available for free on the internet — find the one that you can best grasp, and learn from it. Perhaps if more time were spent studying other cultures in our schools, we would have greater understanding (and more tolerance) of people who think (and indeed are) different.
“History is rich and amazing and wonderful, and its study should be encouraged in every way. If you hear something you haven’t heard about before — research it. The world is at your fingertips! Explore — read articles, investigate as much as you can, and if an article links to something else exciting, check that out. There is no excuse for ignorance.
“Be open to learning new things AND to learning about the other side of what you already think you know – ‘history is written by the victors’ is a maxim for a reason — there are always other sides and ways to interpret things. History doesn’t change, but its interpretation does; how people view things also changes. Things that were okay when your grandparents were children may not be okay any longer, and that’s okay. Things that were thought/taught/expressed when you were a child may no longer be acknowledged as correct (looking at “Pluto is the 9th planet in our solar system” here). Some things are inviolate, but interpretation of history shouldn’t be one of them.
“Google history is quotes for some inspiration. Do some research and thinking before you share something (whether you are literally sharing via the facebook share function or whether you are writing down your thoughts). Most of all, be kind and exude grace. Put others before yourself. Be willing to listen rather than just spout.
“Thank you for reading. If you have made it to here, congratulate yourself, have a snack, and give yourself a high five.
“I welcome civil discourse. If I do not deem your discourse as civil, it will be removed. Thanks, Management!”
- Audra Odom, retired history teacher, having taught in Mississippi and Scotland
This has been copied with her permission and without edit or addition.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.