Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What They Really Want, is to Learn to Build Rockets.

In fourth grade social studies, my child is learning about many events that happened in the 1800th year of our state, including Indiana's fledgling ordinances and treaties. Since third grade we have read about Indiana's fur trading and boundaries. About the Wabash River and canoes and longhouses. I understand that we need to know how many years Corydon was our first capital, and why in the early 1800's we moved the capital to Indianapolis (because they have the Colts, of course).

I will never dispute that the land treaty of eighteen whenever-something-something was important then, and it may matter to you (and it should matter to you), that Jennings helped put Indiana on the map because he authored the Enabling Act that propelled us into statehood. Our history, dates and our past: these are things that every student must learn. 

And, if nothing else, I do understand that we teach history so that history does not repeat itself.

I shall, however, offer this: put fourth grade state level social studies in synopsis form, like we're proposing a novel. Short sweet and to the point; state-level fourth grade social studies curriculum in yellow and black Cliffs Notes form. A month, tops, and we're done with Indiana and moving right on up to bigger things like China, and what the heck's going on in Egypt, the world and the universe. And California and Texas. And beyond.

I want my children to learn about social studies, but also about subjects they will use today and tomorrow, in this lifetime, like why they can absolutely build rockets someday and why aviation science can be so completely cool, or beginning theory of the universe and I want them to spend way, way, more time on math.  Because, here in the Hoosier State, we spend months and a whole lot of pocket change per child to teach them about the Land Treaty of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance and why Tecumseh totally did not have Harrison as his BFF.

In essence, I would like traditional curriculum schools to spend our precious tax dollars teaching these living, breathing sponges more science and more math, how to compose a letter, and to speak and read a foreign language, like Chinese or Spanish--heck I'd be happy with German, or even French. All so that we can open up our big world for them, and find a way for these children and their children's children to make a living outside of this dying rustbelt--a living that does not include re-stocking foreign made toys and televisions at the local Walmart.

But I know my wishes are in vain, because I have a feeling my old friends--Harrison, Clark and Jennings--will all live again, in a different Harcourt hardcover textbook, entitled Fifth Grade Social Studies.

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