Sunday, February 9, 2014

Dr. King, Rosa Parks, & the R.M.S. Titanic

Last night, we watched a fairly new documentary on a new theory about how the R.M.S. Titanic sank.  We've watched a rather unhealthy number of these due to my children's fascination with the disaster.  the experience was. as often happens here, one full of learning, and not in the traditional sense.

First, Aiden had brought home a new book from school that is a nonfiction text about it, and he was excited to be the first child to check it out from the school's library.  As it's a little above his reading level, he got Gavin to read it to him Friday night.  Last night, he opened the text and used the facts in it to support his position in a family debate.  I'm proud, surprised, and cheered by this.  He is learning how to use his education in his life.

This wasn't the biggest learning experience of the night, though.  My husband and I felt compelled to point out a flaw in Gavin's argument about who was to blame for the disaster and who suffered the most by it, the conversation turned to the effects race, class, and gender have on a person's chances of survival in a disaster.  Gavin maintained that the builders failed in their job and that they caused the accident.  He also believed that most of the Third Class passengers and the crew of the Titanic survived.  Aiden agreed with him and that's why he pulled out his little book. It had, he remembered, listed out how many people from each group (First, Second, Third Class passengers and crew) lived and died. 75 % of Third Class passengers died, and 76% of the crew died.  Only 40 % of First Class passengers became casualties.

As the conversation ranged over historic facts and discussions of inequality, my husband and I had the opportunity to include a moral lesson- speaking up, challenging unfair or biased narratives, and critical thinking are not only important in education, they are vital parts of being good citizens of the world.  My husband read Gavin a quote from Rosa Parks.  We told him that one voice has, in any revolution, given others the courage to speak up, to challenge the status quo, to disagree with those in power.  I reminded him of a quote from Dr. King, who had recently been studying.

As parents, we have to take the opportunities we are given to teach civics and morality and ideology when they arise. They pop up at unexpected intervals, but they enrich not only our children, but us.  I'm feeling pretty proud of both my children right now, who despite their youth, engage in learning about the complexities of our society and who are already vowing to try and make the world a better place.

At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this. It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in. -Rosa Parks

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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