I found this sentence troubling:
As I was looking this evening for a speech supporting the Vietnam War to accompany my class’s reading of The Things They Carried, I came across something I hadn’t heard before…
Ergo the picture of the ski lift on the right here, our education system in a nutshell. The mountains are dangerous, exciting, challenging to the spirit. Skiing as
we many do it is safe and boring. Pogie has his whole class reading the same book, and because he’s a special kind of educator, her’s going to give them both sides by having them read a speech in favor of the war. A speech! Both sides! As if!
Here’s the deal: That era of our history is as complex as a mountain range. Learning about the Indochina wars might lead a kid down the path of self-education. It has everything – mass murder, Phoenix, concentration camps, indigenous resistance, the fighting spirit and will to resist, drug running, covert wars in Laos, mass murder in Indonesia, [political assassinations at home and abroad] managed news, protests at home with college campuses lit up and real democracy at work, and the freeing of the human spirit.
It has taken decades to calm this country down again, but they did. Campuses are boring, lie factories, kids are not learning anything in school, and Vietnam has been reduced to a book about personal experiences. The reviews for this book say it is “widely taught,” an expression that grinds my senses.
We have tamed history, made it boring, hard as that is to imagine. Sitting through history classes was harder than listing to the speeches of politicians. Unleash these kids. Don’t assign a book. Let them loose to explore on their own, the only boundary: avoid speeches. Look for what is real. It’s a lifetime pursuit.
PS: I agree that the image of a ski lift does not do justice in the area of failure of our education system. It’s been bugging me all day. I have nothing better at this time and still think ice fishing is boring. Skiing is not. It’s just a mess right now.