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"Why" questions are so

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"Why" questions are so important! Even though the majority of these questions can never be answered satisfactorily, it leaves us asking other probing questions. These questions can lead to wonderful and insightful discussions in the classroom. I wish all history teachers taught all the perspectives of historical events and not just the American viewpoint. War is ugly but it's ugliness needs to be demonstrated. The Dixie Diarist stated, "While you study history, be prepared for what it does to you emotionally." I don't remember any history teacher of mine discussing any emotional aspect of war. Only facts were given. Yet, I was affected emotionally. I wish I had an outlet then for discussion on the emotional aspect. I don't understand how you can teach facts of war without moral or ethical discussions. Great blog!

Principal, Alison Bixby Stone School

This is a wonderful story! I

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This is a wonderful story! I wish more teachers would present the past not only from the perspective of the winners but also through the eyes of history's victims. Have you thought about also talking about how current geopolitical policy continues to oppress the world's disadvantaged communities? While current policy is definitely rooted in the past, talking about the present may help to empower your son to not only ask "Why?" but also "What can we do?"

Teacher, Writer, and Artist

While you study history be

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While you study history be prepared for what it does to you emotionally. We visited Camp Sumter today in Andersonville, the Civil War prison camp. It’s a place of death. Nothing but death.

Sometimes history can make you happy and sometimes it can make you sad. If your eyes don’t tear up from time to time from what you see I think you might not be pursuing history hard enough, because in your pursuits you’ll learn pretty quickly that a large part of history involves the cruelty people impose on each other.

I wouldn’t recommend a visit to Camp Sumter unless you can handle feeling pretty roughed up for the rest of the day.

I know we did.

I know we did because this week my official indication of what got to the boys emotionally, and what didn’t, was whether the chit-chat and the jibber-jabber cranked back up the moment we got back into the bus and headed out for the next place on our list. We had toured the National Prisoner of War Museum on the grounds and walked through the Andersonville National Cemetery, too, and when we headed back to Americus to eat bar-b-que for lunch it was quiet in that bus for a long time.

But it was quiet at Camp Sumter too. Our footsteps and the words of our park guide were the only sounds. A snap or two from Gary’s camera. That was it. For only fourteen months near the end of the Civil War what had happened on the soil we walked on was almost too much to understand … and to attempt to understand no matter how painful history can be is a scholarly pursuit, but the suffering that haunts that great field with an inadequate creek was way too much to comprehend in an hour or so. I think the boys might have asked two or three questions. We were stunned.

Ahead of us with another guide were a group of modern soldiers … about twenty of them. Fit. Young. Alert and respectful, but dressed in casual civilian clothes. Clean shaven. They were soldiers from Fort Rucker in Alabama. Their presence there was oddly striking. I wonder what they were thinking.

Thirteen thousand soldiers died in that stockade … in that incomprehensible squalor and misery and spring and summer and fall heat. Later, in the National Cemetery a few hundred yards away you gaze silently at their thirteen thousand headstones, packed tightly together. Row after row of small, marble headstones. This is a stunning site, too. The headstones glimmer in the bright January light. You instantly feel sad for people you don’t know. Our guide told us the dead were placed shoulder to shoulder, in trenches just three feet deep. Standing in any spot and turning and looking … it’s too much to comprehend.

It was too much to comprehend then.

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