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Blogging On History, Science, and Education

To Teach Critical Thinking Try History and It's Choices

History hones the mind. It is a discipline that asks questions that can’t always be answered. Considering some of those questions makes for the kinds of discussions that energize children--and all of us. There is that central paradox in U.S. history. How could we have had slavery in the land of the free? Mostly our books are terribly simplistic and moralistic on that. Slavery was evil. Period. Of course it was evil--but a lot of slave-owners were not bad people. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were not evil. Why would they do something they knew was wrong? Children need information to wrestle with that thought.
Do we do things we know are wrong? How will future generations judge us? Did you know that Virginia’s George Mason refused to sign the Constitution because it didn’t prohibit the slave trade? Yet Mason was a slave owner who never freed his slaves. South Carolina’s John Rutledge argued at the Constitutional Convention in favor of slavery and the slave trade--and then went back home and quietly freed his slaves. Is that boring information? Kids find it fascinating. They want to know more.
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