When I heard I was placed in high school social studies, I always hoped I would be able to teach AP classes. Those were some of the most challenging classes I had in high school, and the lessons I learned in there were truely life lessons. My first year of AP classes taught me time mangement, scheduling, and more about the country I live in than any other class I have ever taken. I remember doing the prep work over the summer and pouring over the first 6 chapters of the AP US History text book. I remember getting that perfect 5 score back and celebrating. I remember that teacher(Mrs. Reilly) and how she pushed us.
But. Recently I started reading Lies My Teacher Told Me (B&N link) (wikipedia link) recently. Most of it I expected- a lot of history has been white-washed, women taken out of it, and anything else that wasn’t a White European Descendant was basically taken out. Some thing I think he argues are just semantics. (Like who the US “bought” the LA purchase from. He claims that ‘we’ just bought the “claim” to the land, but continued buying the land through out the century by paying the Native Americans. And we couldn’t buy the land from the French, and do so without knowing that they didn’t really own it. I think ‘we’ did and could. Arrogance is an amazing thing in white people [Disclaimer- I'm white].)
But much of what he brings up is supposedly well documented. I use “supposedly” because I am reading this on a Nook e-reader, and don’t often flip to the back to read his citations, just to keep reading. I am assuming they are backed up.
This book has reinforced my desire to bring my feminism and empowerment into my classroom. I want to help my students discover their own abilities. I want to empower them. I want them to learn the real history of the US/world/government. I don’t want them to think that they aren’t a part of it in any meaningful way just because they happen to have been born into what is considered a minority in the US.
This brings me to the conflict and decision I will have to make. Especially if I have to teach an AP class, possibly less if I do not teach AP, but rather just “normal” history (I don’t know if FL has a social studies comprehensive exam yet- they keep adding them). Do I teach them what they need to pass the test to the best of their ability, knowing that what I am teaching them is false and could potentially de-motivate them? But this could allow them to pay less in college, if they pass the exam. Or do I teach them the different history of the world that our white-male-protestant-textbook writers/majority influence people but is potentially more True? But could hinder their ability to pass the exam?
I don’t have to make this decision yet, and I might not ever have to. But the thought is in my brain. So I reach out to all the other teachers who have ever been in my position in any subject, or any future teachers who can see the same conflict arising, with a simple question: What did you do?