Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Teaching History Means Teaching War

by Will Wlizlo


Tags: education, war, history, Civil War, teaching, moral complexity, The Smart Set, mind and body, Will Wlizlo,

history-of-war“Of all the epochs, events, and ideas we could study, war seems to grab a disproportionately large chunk of time in many classrooms around the country,” writes The Smart Set’s Dwight Simon, who’s also an eighth-grade history teacher at Epiphany School in Boston. “If violence truly is the spirituality of our society, then, I fear that we as teachers and students of history have become its theologians.”

Over the past few years of teaching, Simon noticed an unsettling trend, one that may belie a still-developing generation of war apologists-to-be. “[M]ore voices in my classroom are willing to speak up for war’s noble purpose,” Simon observes,

Not comfortable with his students’ one-sided approach to history, Simon tried to rearrange his curriculum and more explicitly teach the moral complexities of war.

And after being subjected to a wholly different lesson plan, what did Simon’s students think of the Civil War? A resounding “the war was worth it.”

Altogether though, Simon isn’t too upset that his students came to the same judgment via a different path:

Source: The Smart Set 

Image by David Masters, licensed under Creative Commons.