After reading our books for a bit to start our day, we headed outside to talk history. And to act it out. Wondering what the big deal is when it comes to border security between us and Mexico (and very curious about the history of walls... more on that later), we picked up nearly where we left off in history last semester with the Mexican American War. We already learned about the colonies and the Louisiana Purchase, but how did CA become part of the US? What was our initial relationship with Mexico? Who was where first?
Each student picked one or two figures from history to act out. Their task was to internalize the story and opinions of their character, then chat with one another in character to gain a preliminary understanding about the various players, sides, and beliefs about the Mexican-American War. I for example, was both Henry David Thoreau and Cochise, Chiricahua, an Apache leader.
While introducing their characters, they were also attempting to talk to other characters with various viewpoints on the war to gain a multifaceted understanding.
Later, we read Howard Zinn's "A Young People's History of the United States" to fill in the gaps in our knowledge after our morning experience. We only made it through a couple pages of the text because we had so many questions. What is annexation? Does it still happen today? We looked at the news and saw that indeed, it's a hot topic. We paused for a mini lesson on analogies after reading that the Mexicans won independence from Spain after a revolutionary war: The United States is to England as Mexico is to Spain... then, The United States is to English as Mexico is to Spanish. We left things at Manifest Destiny and will pick up with more next class.
Alex volunteered to read a comparative text book excerpt depicting the same war with far fewer perspectives or layers. As we often do, we spent some time admiring how infinitely complex and more interesting history can be, and should be, with the addition of many voices.