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Posts Tagged ‘WHAT I LEARNED BY 5TH GRADE’

WHAT I LEARNED BY 5TH GRADE

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 27, 2019

BRYCE ON HISTORY

– I suspect it is a lot more than what they teach today in high school.

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I have recently been a guest on various radio talk shows to discuss the fundamental mechanics of American government. Inevitably, we discuss the teaching of Civics and History in schools, which I believe is lacking. I then recounted what I had learned during my elementary grade school years, which I believe was better than most high schools today.

Let me preface this by saying I attended Fox Run Elementary in Norwalk, Connecticut from 1961-1965, over fifty years ago. I have many fond memories of the school and enjoyed going there. Connecticut is, of course, a part of New England and, as such, there is a great sense of history in terms of the founding of our country. There is also an attachment to the sea as exemplified by the Mystic seaport.

I was attending class at Fox Run when the student body was told of the assassination of President Kennedy by our principal, Mr. Kelly. I was in 4th Grade at the time and vividly remember how it was announced to us, after-which we were dismissed from school. Nonetheless, Fox Run taught the usual subjects of reading, writing, and arithmetic, but there was also a very strong curriculum for history.

During my time there, we watched the NASA Mercury and Gemini space programs during lunch hall on televisions brought in for us. Knowing the historical significance of the space program, the teachers made a concerted effort for us to watch the space shots which enraptured many of us.

In Social Studies class, we learned about the famous explorers of the world and why they traveled the seas to find new lands. We learned about Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, Vasco da Gama, Hernando de Soto, and others. We also learned about the Pilgrims, the Virginians, and the native Indians. The intent was to discuss how these various cultures affected each other, both good and bad. There was no discussion of political correctness, just “this is what happened” and when.

In all grades, we began the day by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, and sang a patriotic song, such as “God Bless America,” “America the Beautiful,” and of course, the “Star-Spangled Banner.” We also observed Columbus Day by reviewing his voyage.

It was in 5th grade where the teachers zeroed in on American history. Naturally, we had a text book to study, but there was a lot of discussion on how the country was founded, going back to the French and Indian Wars, followed by the Revolution, and the Declaration of Independence. Keep in mind, as New Englanders we were all familiar with various historical sites in the area, so the Revolutionary War was near and dear to our hearts.

We read the Declaration, discussed how and why it was created, and committed quite a bit of it to memory, particularly, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Likewise, we memorized the preamble of the Constitution, to wit: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

In discussing the Constitution, it was impressed upon us the three “separate but equal branches of government”; the executive, legislative, and judicial, and how this formed “checks and balances” on each other. We also reviewed the Bill of Rights and discussed how to amend the Constitution.

We spent considerable time discussing the Civil War, including why we went to war, the horrors of it, and the principals involved on both sides. Although we were Connecticut Yankees, I do not remember my teachers ever besmirching the names of southerners like General Robert E. Lee, or President Jefferson Davis. Again, there was no discussion of political correctness, just “this is what happened” and when.

In addition to the generals and politicians of the day, we also learned about Abolitionist John Brown, Nurse Clara Barton, Assassin John Wilkes Booth, the Underground Railroad, and the Gettysburg Address. As to the Address, we studied it carefully. Although we were not asked to memorize it, I know of others who had to do so as it was considered almost as important as the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

After the Civil War, we studied Reconstruction, the various Presidents, World War I (which our grandfathers served in), and World War II (which our fathers served in). We spent time discussing Hitler’s rise to power, as well as the Holocaust, which was a real eye-opener to us if memory serves me right.

In looking back on this curriculum, it wasn’t too bad and we had no problem digesting it. I don’t know if Fox Run still teaches it, but I hope they do. I suspect we weren’t unique as I have discussed this with other friends my age who experienced similar teachings elsewhere.

It was this teaching that planted the seeds of history within me, which would later be supplemented in High School with more in-depth discussions, but the foundation was carefully laid at Fox Run. From my experience, what I learned there is much better than what is taught in the high schools today.

And, Yes, we learned the differences between a Democracy and a Republic.

By the way, thank you Mr. Hamilton and Mrs. Gilmore, wherever you may be.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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