Thursday, February 23, 2006

buy me


today i am wrapping up our unit on postwar america. it is a bittersweet collection of lessons centered on amusing clips from i love lucy and the flintstones smoking winston cigarettes to some disturbing policy and cultural shifts toward the rampant consumerism that entangles us today.

students are shocked as we look at the very public "national defense" rationale for building multi-billion dollar Interstate Highway system in contrast with the very private push from the auto industry to build more, bigger, and faster roads. the idea of public transit was denounced as a communist plot, while private automobile ownership esteemed as the highest american ideal.

we examine together the devastating effect that the growth of the government sponsored suburbs has had on the "inner" city. we question the GI Bill and FHA as we see how they served as the single largest de facto subsidy for segregation in american history.

we lament the creation of the worlds largest and most powerful army of the poor. a force dedicated to the protection of ideals often enjoyed only by the elite, an elite that will never be asked to sacrifice one thing in order to improve the condition of the widows and orphans of those soldiers.

we are startled at the slim, healthy young men and women in the Lincoln High yearbooks from the 1950s, an era of industriousness...and home-cooked meals. we laugh at the goofy haircuts and glasses. we yearn for the lack of teen violence, the high levels of student involvement, the rigorous academic standards (ok, well some of us yearn for higher standards).

we challenge one another's assumptions about "the woman's place" in society, the reasons behind demographic and socioeconomic change in our community, the effect our tv's have had on us.

and we look ahead, asking, "who are we as a generation?" and "for what will we be remembered?"

the postwar unit is bittersweet because it dangles before us a simpler time, just out of our reach. it reveals to us how we, as a people, got what we asked for, and how we might like to reconsider our request. it forces us to evaluate our desires, and consider our willingness to change, to be the change.

in the end, we see that we always, always, always have choices to make. and those choices create our daily reality. and we have to live with it.

4 comments:

Jared said...

Great post Cory. I think the line about getting what we asked for and reconsidering our requests is hauntingly sad.

I just stared reading "The Place You Love is Gone" My Melissa Holbrook Pierson. A beautiful book about loss of place and time. I'm only thirty-some pages in but my favorite line so far (there are many) is how we've been fooled into selling "our birthright to the Devil in exchange for a wide selection of bath mats." The Times review likened book to a "punk rock girl sitting in the rear pews at church, offering a counternarrative: what she says about the patriarchy and the raping of the land is true but the priests wish her parents would drag the girl home; the organ player pipes louder in order to drown the punk's anti-establishment rant. But she'll chain herself to the altar and she will sing, too. "Genocidal Greed" is the title of her song."

I offer the quote mostly as the best description I've ever heard of the woman I want to marry, but also to identify the song your singing. I'll hum a few bars with you as I consider what we can make of choices we have. Thanks

kara said...

I'm not exactly a punk rock girl, but I do feel like I'm being drowned out by the pipe organ. There's not a lot of women like me in my pew, in my church, there's none. No wonder I'm borderline disillusioned. Quick, someone be real before I leave. I'm withering!

Adam Go said...

Dany... You make me want to go back to high school and take history.

AND I HATE HISTORY!!

Anonymous said...

Cory,

Well written, my friend. This is the first time I've clicked over to your blog! (I just noticed that there was a link to it from ours!) I'm self-centered and ignorant.

Wow, crazy thoughtfulness. I would imagine your students are pleasantly (maybe not by their desires) challenged by your curricular exercises. (Like I was just trying to put that sentence together.) But, I agree with Adam Go (though I like history): you make it sound as interestingly complex as I imagine history really is.

And cool blog format, too. Nice.