S3E7 Founding Fatherhood part 2 Rewriting History

main idea: How to teach children the truth (good and bad) about our founding fathers, and how to teach them about Liberty. 

If you have never heard the story about how Kasie and Jessica became friends, here is the Cliff’s Notes version:

The two embarked upon the journey that was the 2020 Libertarian Party National Convention in Orlando, Fl. During the 8 hour drive they learned of their shared parenting styles, a shared love of all things Clemson Football, and a shared (and possibly unhealthy) obsession with Hamilton. 

It is indisputable that Lin Manuel-Miranda has captured audiences with his lyrical and melodical genius, which has led many to a newfound curiosity, possibly obsession, about our founding fathers. Played by an all-minority cast, LMM reached audiences who would never know much more about the “old white men” they see on our money and in history textbooks. Watching Hamilton’s incredible cast doesn’t erase the dark side of our Founding Fathers’ history, though. 

We all know their remarkable (favorable) accomplishments, including, but not limited to, the following:

  1. Built an army and defeated the world’s biggest Superpower (at that time)
  2. Created a new society allowing for social and financial prosperity through liberty
  3. Created new financial system
  4. Created complex legal systems to allow for fair and equitable justice
  5. Built a whole new progressive system of government
Photo by Nicole Berro on Pexels.com

Of course those things are great, because they have allowed us to build the nation we live in, but they were not perfect men. Washington and Jefferson were slave owners, who amassed great wealth and privilege building plantations on the backs of slaves. Jefferson and Hamilton were adulterers, Jefferson having sired an entire family with one of his slaves. 

Has your family/kids watched Hamilton?

Have you talked to your kids about the Founding Fathers?

On this episode of Words & Numbers, James and Ant went a little deeper on Thomas Jefferson and shared some interesting facts about this Founding Father, including the economic struggles he had and the likelihood that freeing his slaves would have been catastrophic not only for him, but for them as well. Do not read that as an endorsement of enslaving people. It’s only to say that things are black and white, never have been, never will be, and we should be careful judging those who existed in the past by our modern moral compases.

So the movement to “rewrite history” is a disorganized but important effort by voices from diverse backgrounds and experiences recognizing that the traditional high school history curriculum has been narrowly focused on great white men. Good link here. Some redflags you might notice:

  • “three “good wars for freedom”: The Revolutionary War birthing Americans’ commitment to liberty; the Civil War extending freedom to enslaved people; World War II exporting American freedom worldwide—so goes the sanitized classroom (and Hollywood) story.” — wars that don’t fit the ‘freedom narrative’ like Korea, Vietnam, and Spanish-American are glazed over or skipped past.
  • Hyper-patriotic narratives that focus on American exceptionalism including “depict(ing) America as a “land of opportunity” for all, praise capitalism, downplay imperialism, and characterize protest as misguided, dangerous, or deranged.”

It’s recommended that educators (and parents) embrace a flipped-classroom approach by reading multiple sources, seeking out alternative narratives, and questioning when history is presented as a “series of facts.”

Do you discuss the good AND the bad? If so, how?

How much of your kids history lessons are you paying attention to?

Is there a mix of school influence, historical visits, discussion, films, etc in your house? Or are you relying on historians to curate the experience for your kid?

Is this a bigger issue around how much transparency schools provide in curriculum and what the response is to questioning the approved curriculum?

Published by kasiewhitener

Author of After December, host of Write On SC, YouTube channels for both and blogging like it's my job at http://kasiewhitener.com

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