“Mommy, Wouldn’t I Have Been a Slave Back Then?”: Pastness as Position in Reconsidering History Education
In 2018, Lisa, an African American fourth grader at a New Jersey elementary school, was given the assignment of placing herself back in the early 1700s in order to write a first-person “Colonial Character Journal.” Should she imagine herself back in time as a black girl in bondage? Or should she reimagine herself as a white colonial child? Beth C. Rubin, professor of education at Rutgers, considers how historical memory is constructed in educational practice and addresses urgent questions about how we engage students in historical study, particularly in relation to slavery and colonialism, the legacies of which continue to shape the lives of contemporary people.
Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art