This morning, the Goose and I were going over her Language Arts lesson. As part of the lesson, I read the song, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” to her, and we talked about the verbiage used and what the words meant. One of the questions in the book was, “Why was America a sweet land of liberty? What did the country provide liberty from?” I asked her, expecting her to roll her eyes and say this work was too easy. Instead, she gave me a “deer in the headlights” look. So, I rephrased the question. She must not have understood what it meant. I asked her, “Who came over to start America, and what were they trying to be free from?” There, my expert educational skills fixed it. Now, surely she would understand. Again, the deer looked back at me. I said, “Child. Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving? Who was involved in that?” She didn’t know. How is that possible?
I began thinking about how my 11 year old child had possibly lived in America for this many years without knowing how our great country got started. In my defense, I am positive I have taught this to her before. However, come to think of it, it has been many years since we discussed it. Apparently, it didn’t sink in back then.
I attempted to explain the story of the pilgrims coming over by boat. I really didn’t want it to turn into a history lesson, so I wanted to just run through it. I decided that I’d better check and see if my 15 year old knew how America started. (At this point, I shouldn’t assume anything, right?) I called him out from his room where he was hiding to avoid school. I asked him if he could tell the story of how America was started. (I was really praying he could. If he couldn’t, I had decided it was definitely time for me to hang up my lesson plan book…yeah right, like I use one of those.)
So I said, “Beetle, can you please tell your sister who came over by boat to start America?” His answer was, “Zombies.” Thank you. That’s helpful. “No, really. Can you give her the brief story?” (I’m holding my breath at this point.) “Nope.” I said, “Really? You can’t? Or you’re just being difficult?” “I dunno.” I said, “Beetle, I’ll give you a hint. The pilgrims came across the ocean. Can you tell us why?” “Because there was an assassination.” I said, “No, I’m pretty sure that’s not true.” “Yeah. It is, and there was a tea party involved.”
Now, the Goose was interested. She loves tea parties. I said I was pretty sure he was mistaken, though there was a tea party of sorts later. (Hey! I had her interest. I didn’t want to lose it.) I asked the Beetle if he could please explain how America was started before my head started spinning around. Luckily, he could somewhat explain it, though he still insisted there was an assassination. Whatever makes it more interesting for you, dude.
The whole morning caused me to question my abilities as a teacher. Honestly. How did I manage to get my kid to 6th grade without teaching her the basics of American history? I know we made Pilgrim and Indian costumes when they were little. I know we discussed it. Didn’t we?
I’m wondering at this point what else I have missed with her. Perhaps she knows how to divide, but she doesn’t know what the numbers stand for! Maybe she can write but doesn’t know what that little dot is for at the end of sentences. (Don’t ask Beetle. He will not answer you correctly on that.)
I realize my kids know how to push my buttons. In fact, they are champion button pushers. The Beetle, Mr. American History Assassination, wrote the book on button pushing, and his little sister took lessons from the master. However, the scary truth is that I’m pretty sure the Goose wasn’t pushing my buttons. I think she really didn’t know about the Pilgrims. It might be time to reevaluate my curriculum. -Al