Ahistoricity

I'm on maternity leave but I got to return to my school this week for a couple of days to help out with prepping the kids for a big academic conference. I figured I'd help them put some finishing touches on their social studies projects, just polish up the English side of things. Their assignment was to describe the "push and pull" connecting certain big events in US history, and tie those events to Hawaii.
Here's one: "The Indians got sick of the American's taxes, so they started the constitutional war to get rid of the Americans. Then George Washington freed the slaves."

I COULD NOT HAVE MADE THIS UP. This was not a unique example. The kids-- seventh graders-- had no sense of timeline, no sense of causality. Not even broad general skeletons of cause and effect to hang ideas on. Kamehameha and JFK were all jumbled up-- Native Americans came from Africa and Captain Cook conquered Hawaii for the Americans by bombing Pearl Harbor. It was stunning. I can't blame the kids for what they don't know. But I can observe how their world is all disconnected. Only observable phenomena, no discernible cuss or effect, no precedent, no antecedent. Even their devotion to Hawaiianess  is based on an emotional understanding of what that means, and a commitment to a wholly mythical landscape. Kamehameha was seven feet tall, and he was a shrimp, all Hawaiians lived to 130 eating only fish and poi, dinosaurs and vaccines and voting and GMO and college are all suspect imports, brought here to wreck havoc.

I wondered, what's it like in your funny little brains? How small the world-- since it's only what you see, and how enormous the world-- since your reality fills the universe.

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  2. Hey Becca,
    How're things with the new baby? I loved going through and reading your old posts. I'm sure you're busy but we're looking forward to the next one.
    Take care!

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    1. Thanks Joshua-- I just posted more. And it's awful.

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