Like so many parts of American life, our holidays lend themselves to self-gratifying aggrandizement.
Presidents’ Week nee Presidents’ Day nee Washington‘s Birthday and Lincoln’s Birthday have taken a strange path through American education. At first, the days were merely milestones to remember two of our most important Presidents. Then, in some odd spirit of inclusiveness, the holidays were combined to form Presidents’ Day, thus including all Presidents–even James Buchanan, and that’s a stretch.
Today, the mere day just won’t do: retailers and car dealerships require a WEEK to find an excuse to dress two schmucks as Washington and Lincoln so they can hawk their crap while the kids are home on their winter break.
For teachers, the days leading up to Presidents’ Week inevitably involve books concerning our chief executives. As a nifty way to share resources, The Neighborhood is now asking its readers to submit their favorite book for the holiday. They can range from the tried and true childrens’ biographies of the past (Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire‘s incredible 1939 classic Abraham Lincoln comes to mind) to the modern tomes that deal more realistically with the office (Such as Judith St. George‘s So You Want to be President?).
Please leave your suggestions in the comment box. I’d love to see the different resources our readers use and share them with fellow teachers.
This Day in History 2/22: Happy Birthday, George Washington!
A big birthday salute to our first President (under our current Constitution) George Washington, born on February 22, 1732 (according to the current Gregorian calendar) in Virginia.
Needless to say, almost every school boy and girl can recite Georgie’s accomplishments ad nauseum–well, at least my kids can: Planter (and slaveowner), surveyer, inadvertantly began the first real “world war” in the French and Indian War, delegate to the Virginia House of Burgesses, commander of the Continental Army, president of the Constitutional Convention, and of course the first President under the document that came out of said convention.
Attached is a scene from the 1999 A&E film The Crossing, which deals with Washington’s Christmas victory at Trenton in 1776. General Horatio Gates, a former British soldier, outlies his reservations about Washington’s plan–and Washington himself. In his response, played by Jeff Daniels, you can note Washington’s stature, resolve, reckless nature and his fiery temper: something often forgotten about him.
It’s a great scene to use in the classroom to compare with the idealized Washington of paintings, prints, books and film. Hope you enjoy the rest of Washington’s birthday.
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Tagged as American History, Commentary, Constitutional Convention, Continental Army, Curriculum, Education, Educational leadership, French and Indian War, George Washington, Gregorian calendar, History, Jeff Daniels, Leadership, motion pictures, movies, President of the United States, Social studies, Teachers, Teaching, television, The Crossing, U.S. History, United States, Virginia, war