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Posts Tagged ‘inauguration’

I remember the very first time I ever had an awareness of politics and any feeling about a political candidate.  I was in probably fifth grade and I was riding the bus home from school.  I grew up on the edge of Appalachia, and the bus ride was a long one.  After all, school was in town and we weren’t.  Anyway, someone on the bus started talking about the upcoming election.  Everyone on the bus seemed to be aware of it but me.  Suddenly, from the back  – low but rhythmic, came the chant, “Nix-on, Nix-on, Nix-on!”  It built up speed and volume as the bus sped down the highway.  Students were screaming, kids were ripping paper out of their notebooks and making impromptu signs that they held up to the windows.  It was cacophonous and exhilarating and it. just. seemed. so. important.  We were chanting as if the very fate of the election rested on our backs and we were not about to let Nixon down!  In hindsight, perhaps we should have.

What strikes me about this whole episode is that I got off the bus that day just as ignorant as I had gotten on.  I felt like I was a part of a real community, but I had no idea what that community wanted or stood for.

Now I teach fifth graders.  Today we sat and watched Barack Obama being sworn in as our President.  I have made real effort this year to present both McCain and Obama to my students.   I watched them talk semi-intelligently about the candidates and I secretly thrilled when Obama won our mock election 56 to 6.  When I had to console my McCain supporting students after the real election, I knew they were paying attention.  We’ve spent the past month talking a little every day about the history that was made today.  It’s not my curriculum – I’m supposed to be teaching about the first thirteen colonies right now if I’m going to get to Westward expansion by May.  But this year, I let that go.  The here and now are much too important.  So we may not get those top scores on the Social Studies portion of the State Standardized test, but we’ll know why we watched this inauguration.  We’ll understand the atmosphere of rejoicing and hope that have surrounded us, and we will know what our community wants and what it stands for, and we will know what  it means to say, “Yes we can!”

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