26 AHMP: Where's the Party? Why Thanksgiving is Fading From the American Classroom and What You Can Do About It
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Did your child have a Halloween party this year? Of course, right? Well, don’t be so sure there will be a feast, party, or even a discussion prior to Thanksgiving at the same school this year. And my friend, this is the year that you need to take action to instill and reinforce the shared common identity that we have as Americans in younger generations.
What you say? That can’t be possible? There should be a Thanksgiving feast. Won’t there be lessons about William Bradford, the Pilgrims, and the Wampanog? Younger children will be making Pilgrim hats or mantles or perhaps fashioning jewelry as was often worn by the Wampanog. Won’t they? Well, have a talk with your child, his or her teacher, as well as other parents at the school, and you may be in for a rude awakening. After a bit of research, I have come to the conclusion that the celebration of Thanksgiving in our schools is undergoing a fundamental transformation. As with past celebrations of Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays, Thanksgiving is becoming a time that is more focused on vacations and sales than an opportunity to educate our young citizens about their common heritage and identity as Americans. It is part of the de-emphasis, shunning, and even demonization of our national identity as Americans. Educators often argue that there is no common identity for Americans. No “We the People” only a disparate group of individuals with different ethnic, cultural, and racial backgrounds. Do you know what your child is being taught? Is everything connected to the predominantly white European settlers who established the colonies, as well as our Founding Fathers, portrayed in a derogatory light? If this is the case, as it is in so many schools, then you as a parent, grandparent, or simply as a proud American need to push back and teach children about their shared heritage.
When I was in elementary school, there were separate holidays to celebrate the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Before each holiday, we spent time in class learning about what each of those great men contributed to our country. Whether it was coloring pictures in kindergarten, writing stories in fifth grade, or composing an essay in high school, I continued to learn more each year about why each man was exceptional, and how each of them contributed to our exceptional country. Slowly, over time, that pattern has changed. Most schools now celebrate “Presidents’ Day.” Prior to the holiday there may be instruction about Washington and Lincoln, all of the presidents, the office itself, or nothing at all. The lesson that is connected to the holiday, if there is one, differs between teachers, schools, and school districts. The school district which my children attend incorporates the holiday into a vacation period the district refers to as “Presidents’ Recess”, but most parents refer to as “ski week.” In my opinion, the holiday has little meaning, and there is a minimal amount of time spent educating students about the history that underlies it.
Could it be that the same type of desecration is happening to Thanksgiving? Is our country being stripped of all the holidays that make it unique? Thanksgiving without mention of the Pilgrims is something akin to the Fourth of July without fireworks. But wait as I recall last Fourth of July I heard about fireworks as laden with toxic chemicals and bad for the environment. It is only a matter of time before liberals link it to global warming and demand that all national commemorations of the signing of the Dec…