Saturday, November 11, 2006

Lest we forget...

In Flanders Fields poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

There is power in the written and spoken word. If there wasn’t – people wouldn’t die to preserve our fundamental right to speak/write our opinions. We have a responsibility to remind our students that we owe our tremendous freedoms to many people who have died for it. It’s Veteran’s Day – so I thought it appropriate to remind everyone of the now famous poem that was written to capture the horrors of World War I.

We are engaged in another war at this moment, but unless we have been personally touched by a loss, it still seems far removed from our lives. Perhaps we have been numbed by constant media exposure of the conflict or perhaps violence in our lives have become commonplace. Perhaps there are too many causes for us to wear ribbons for that they yellow gets lost amongst the rainbow of colors.

I love what the folks over at Just One More Book! have done with their freedom of expression. (Thanks Technospud for the link!) Gathering in a coffee shop – they discuss the children’s books they love and why they love them. The most recent? A Poppy is to Remember – based upon the poem that opened this blog. Listen to the podcast to hear them describe the book and how their children loved it – as well as the connections to learning about war (and peace!) Podcasting is a great way for students to express their freedom of speech!

I also think my students would be amazed to learn that one of their favorites, Captain Underpants, made the Top Ten List of Most Challenged Books in 2005 for “anti-family content, being unsuited to age group and violence.” Of the list that same year are the classics “Of Mice and Men” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Banned Book Week , designated by the American Library Association as the last week in September, took on new irony as a display of banned books was banned! What better way to demonstrate the freedom of speech (and develop critical thinking skills) than to have students read a “Banned Book” and blog as they read their thoughts on why it might have been banned. Is it language? Content? Something else? Authentic and engaging: what kid won’t be drawn to something banned?

Times like these I miss having my own classroom! Every day should be Veteran’s Day!

No comments: