Welcome to this lovely, early spring! I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed the warm breezes, greening of the grass, and the budding plant life. But then I remember that Conner Prairie is about to start its April presentation of Follow the North Star
, our award-winning Underground Railroad simulation, and I wonder how long the pleasant weather will stick around. This is Indiana after all!
With the warmer temperatures comes spring fever, an annual affliction of teachers and schoolchildren everywhere. As some of you may know, I “moonlight” as a secondary English teacher, and I’m finding it increasingly difficult to keep my students on task when they would rather stare out the window at the budding trees. I thought I could capture their attention by reading a piece of African American literature written prior to the Civil War, so imagine my surprise when my high school students knew little or nothing about that time in American history!
Stunned, I asked the U.S. History teacher next door to me why they were so uninformed, and he told me it had been removed from the eleventh grade curriculum. In an effort to concentrate on Indiana Standards and test scores, a most critical time in our nation’s history has been eliminated!
I am very sad for the children who will graduate from high school ignorant of the hardships of slavery. As we say about our Follow the North Star program, “man’s humanity to man” was an attempt to right so many of those wrongs. I am glad that Conner Prairie has such a fine program to offer the community, and I hope that both students and adults who participate in it (either in the daytime or nighttime program) will take advantage of this great opportunity to supplement their state-mandated units of study.
Education in this state is under fire. However, education can be found outside a classroom or textbook, and Conner Prairie’s Follow the North Star is a great way to fill the gaps left by the myopic focus on test scores. Spread the word to family and friends that our children’s education can be enhanced by this hands-on approach to learning, and their knowledge of history will only benefit from the experience.