Mr. Lincoln, Who Are You?

6 May

by Katie Gieselman-

A large part of preserving history happens in a classroom when we are young. In elementary school, children are trusting of their authority figures, so it makes perfect sense that they absorb and believe everything they are taught in history classes. I was completely guilty of this as a child, in fact most of us probably were. It wasn’t until I got into college that I truly began to question all sides of the story when it came to history. I remember leaving a few college classes thinking “why in the world wasn’t I taught this in school?” For example, in elementary school we are taught how great of a hero Abraham Lincoln was. He freed the slaves, won the civil war, and practically saved the world like super man… I’m surprised he didn’t have a cape in textbook pictures of him! Upon leaving a college course I was given an entirely new picture. I learned so many things about this historical figure that he quickly dropped on my favorites list. I honestly felt kind of cheated.

Recently I have overheard a few students asking “Why weren’t we taught this in school?” and it really got me thinking. Are we doing our students a favor by sheltering them from the truth? I would argue no. I think at a young age you can’t dive into too much detail when it comes to history, but in middle school I do believe that students should be given all sides of the story and allowed to make the decision of what they believe is true for themselves. I really don’t think we are doing our students a favor by not allowing them to form their own ideas. It is certainly not preserving history if all sides aren’t being told and its not allowing students to become deeper thinkers. I also think that showing them all sides would allow them to pick out biases in history, which I feel is an important skill for later on in life. Let me know what you think… Are we doing our students a favor?

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