In a Revolutionary Frame of Mind
No, I’m not calling up troops to revolt today. Shocking, I’m sure, but things are actually going quite well in my neck of the woods.
The revolution on my mind is American, circa the mid 1770’s. I know this is something that we all learned about back in 6th grade, 8th grade, and 10th grade, but I feel like I’m just now truly realizing the importance of the revolution. Why? Because I’m teaching it. For me, nothing seems to really hit home until I’ve had to teach it. My 10th graders are in their 2nd trimester, and revolutions are the hot topic. Before break, we studied the French Revolution as a class and small groups looked at other revolutions, including the revolutions in Russia, Cuba and Uganda.
Teaching something requires me to make it my own, for me to put my own perspective on it, to do something with information that I would otherwise forget. This, and the time I spend with students, is what I love about teaching. I love how information and facts come together to create stories, little moments in the collective human memory that, when called upon, can inform and shed light upon our own lives, families, and societies.
Part of what is making the American Revolution come alive for me is the HBO Mini-series John Adams (imagine my students’ excitement when they heard we’d be watching clips from an HBO show! They were incredibly disappointed to not see the Sopranos or the gals from Sex in the City on the screen.), produced by Tom Hanks and starring Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti. I am loving this show so much that I brought it home so Jason and I could watch it together last night. It made for a nerdy but fabulous night as we tried to out-fact each other about the events of each scene.
This particular revolution is hitting home for me because of the raw reality of the colonists’ lives. I am so struck by everything they fought for and worked for, both at home and at war. Images of Abigail scrubbing the floor by hand, not knowing what she will feed her children through the winter are bringing up so much emotion for me because I realize (I’ve always known, but realizing is different) how those women were fighting so that their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren and so on would have a better life, a life where they where they could be free and happy be able to pursue their own dreams. And now, here we are, as the children down the line who are free and are happy and do have the opportunity to pursue our dreams.
This post has nothing to do with food, except to say how thankful I am for all those men and women fought for and how thankful I am for all the men and women who continue to fight and work so that we might live the lives we do, lives where we have grocery stores stocked to the ceiling with food, cars with seat warmers for transport, homes with strong walls and doors to keep us safe at night. Teaching makes these things real to me and I hope that, while I am not out in the world fighting for our country, I can do my little part to fight where I am to make sure that these stories are not forgotten and that those lives are not ever truly lost.