Wednesday, March 17, 2010

This is when I love my job

Every year, there are certain lessons which I look forward to teaching. They tend to be the lessons where I get to dismantle some commonly held, but incorrect, notion to which my students cling.

Today was one of those days.

My 8th graders are currently learning about the specific events that led to the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War/War Between the States/War for Southern Independence. You have probably heard of some or all of these events: Missouri Compromise of 1820; Compromise of 1850; Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854; Uncle Tom's Cabin; the Fugitive Slave Act; Dred Scott vs. Sanford; Bloody Kansas; John Brown's Harper's Ferry raid; Congressman Brooks breaking his cane over the head of Congressman Sumner.

There is another event that I also mention, and that is the formation in 1854 of the Republican Party. The Republican Party was formed by mostly anti-slavery Whigs who had grown weary of the Whigs' wishy-washy approach to the issue of slavery. Most of the students I teach come from Democrat homes, and I always get quite a reaction (especially from my black students) when they find out that it was the Democrats who ruled the South and defended slavery, and it was the Republicans who wanted to end slavery, with the GOP being formed largely for that purpose.

Upon telling my 8th period class this afternoon that this was the case, one of my astonished students blurted out, "I thought it was the other way around."

Of course you did.

Good Day to You, Sir

1 comment:

Darren said...

"Oh, but in the 60s, the Democrats and the Republicans changed sides." I've been told that--don't exactly know what that means.