So, I am in my Curriculum and Instruction class today during the inauguration…
My professor asked if anyone was feeling particularly “teacherly”, and I responded with a half-shrug / raising of both of my hands as if to say, “Shouldn’t I always be?” So, she asked me to manage the 50 or so college students who were in the conference room to watch the inauguration during our first class of the semester. I lead discussion on who, when or what really influenced everyone’s first learning about politics. I told the following story about how this morning has already been special…
I woke up early to get myself ready for the day. I showered, put some breakfast together and sat down to be briefed by CSPAN on the morning’s festivities. Little did I remember that one of my favorite teachers from high school would have been proud that I went there first. I began the day with the thought that he really would be thrilled to see the camaraderie displayed in this country over today’s events. I believe he passed away during the my senior year, but I hoped today to call in to CSPAN and say a few words in his memory. I respect all of my teachers, but he was particularly influential with his approach to teaching. He showed me that there is a lot of room in the classroom for being corny (especially if you have a wicked mustache… not that I will ever grow a ‘stache).
After I had set the mood (with what I realized to be a pretty serious talk), a lot of my fellow classmates shared their experiences as non-voters in government courses during an election year. We talked about trips to DC or Springfield that had an impact or just taught them about group tourism. Other folks mentioned strategies they thought were powerful and some they thought turned them off to politics.
Finally, just before we tuned into the internet broadcasts, my professor spoke on her childhood, growing up in the South in segregated schools: leading up to the inauguration of JFK, her parents were convinced that the Pope would be in control of the United States and that JFK would open the doors of ‘private clubs’ to people of any color. The most touching moment was when she shared a very emotional memory with us – one of the last she shared with her mother as her mother was fading out of life. She said that this election brought out the change in her mother’s view on race and that her mother was really excited for Obama’s candidacy.
In all, other than having to step up in front of my peers in just three minutes, I think I pulled off a decent discussion. A lot of people had something to say when I gave them the floor. I took my professor’s evaluation very seriously, though: I spent too much time talking by myself. So, a lesson learned today.
Later we spoke on some ideas about teaching the inauguration in our own classrooms. I have some notes on ideas that people shared. But, for me, after my teacher brain was engaged, I picked up a few words from the benediction that I thought could form a really good written response on memorable imagery from the day’s speeches: “…when tanks will be beaten into tractors…”