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Blogging On History, Science, and Education

What Does An American Look Like?

A few years ago I was in Athens, Greece and saw a bunch of children—little girls in starched dresses with bows, and boys with neat shirts and pants—walking into a big building. Of course I followed them and was soon in the principal’s office. Her English was better than my Greek and we made ourselves understood. Then she sent me to an English language class of fourth graders.
I was astonished. The children were all Greek. I explained to them that in the United States some children in a typical classroom might be Greek, but others would be of Italian heritage, or African, or Russian, or British, or Japanese. Name any country, and you will find representatives in America’s schools. Actually, I explained, we in the United States are mongrels, mixtures, even the “Native Americans” seem to have come from diverse ethnic groups.
I went on telling them that we have a heritage of working together. Even people who don’t like or trust each other have, in the past, managed to collaborate for the good of the country. How has that happened? America’s public schools usually get the credit.
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