Thursday, April 29, 2010

Life in an American Fourth Grade: Some Good Things about America; Don't Say "Primitive"

By Barry Rubin

For the second time (and, as it later turned out, the last time during the year), positive things have been said about the United States in the fourth-grade class. The teacher, during a discussion of immigration which, along with racism and man-made global warming are the three topics that take up the whole class year, the teacher remarked that America is a great place to live and doesn’t classify people by class.

In music class during the singing of a Native American song (they did sing America the Beautiful twice but never learned the National Anthem, My Country ‘Tis of Thee, the Battle Hymn of the Republic, or any other patriotic song), the teacher asked the students to describe Native American music. One student used the word “primitive.” The teacher responded along the following lines: “Don’t say that because that’s like saying we’re so great and they’re so primitive so let’s just say `simple.’”

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