I usually open my history lessons by announcing, “Once upon a time . . . “.

Unorthodox, I know. But I have discovered that my students only comprehend what was going if I get them emotionally and mentally involved. I often stop and ask them what they would do if they were in that situation, or to pass judgment on a certain political decision.

So I tell history like it is a fairy tale. To my students, John Adams has become a heroic figure who is revered alongside Hector. And the reasons for the Spanish-American War have been booed like a medieval villain.

Most importantly, the Fifth Graders seem to remember the history. And they can recognize the patterns of actions and stories!

But this type of education comes with its own perils.

While describing the life of Abraham Lincoln, I might have oversold the story.

In the middle of discussing Honest Abe’s determination to get an education, one of the brightest yet absent-minded students had a flash of brilliance.

“Oooh!” she exclaimed, “so Lincoln is just like Cinderella!”

So, replace a fairy Godmother with hard work, and the happily ever after with a strong moral sense.

Then yes, Abraham Lincoln is just like Cinderella!


2 thoughts on “CinderAbe

  1. As far as consequences go, I’d say Disney-Princess-Abe is a mild one to exchange for kids actually learning and liking history!
    I had a college professor who was a fantastic (though tough) art-history teacher. Several times he came to class in costume in order to help connect things in our minds. I remember him in full mafia-don getup when he started in on the Famiglia de’ Medici, and I am not sure I am able to describe what he was wearing when we began discussing Dada… Just goes to show that telling stories can help learners of any age.

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