Thursday, February 23, 2006
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.
Posted by cory at 1:51 PM