23/01/2017

Past Masters...

There have been many truly great US Presidential Inaugural Addresses..

JFK's in 1961 immediately and perhaps most obviously springs to mind...

Abraham Lincoln's second, as the Civil War still raged in 1864, is perhaps equally remarkable in its context...

Abraham Lincoln

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

And then there's Franklin Delano Roosevelt's in 1933...

FDR

I'm particularly drawn to FDR. His subsequent New Deal, a programme of social and economic reforms to address the impact of the Great Depression and alluded to in his speech, was the first topic I ever taught to a GCSE History group back in 1988!

At the time, I also recommended that they read John Steineck's 'The Grapes of Wrath' or 'Of Mice and Men'... Or study the iconic photos of the US Dustbowl by brilliant photographers like Arthur Rothstein and Dorothea Lange...

Dustbowl photos

www.pbs.org/kenburns/dustbowl/photos/

That was because we also had to assess our students' ability to show Empathy - the ability to understand a person's feelings, actions or emotions based on their own experiences at the time. Emotional intelligence of past, I suppose.

Interestingly, in striving to understand our own unsettling and confusing times, and the immediate aftermath of the most recent Presidential Inaugural Address, it is perhaps this skill from a study of the past - alongside that of learning how to think critically - that now seems at its most relevant. So let's keep learning about it.

'The only thing we have to fear is fear itself' (Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933).

Apparently, Ex-President Obama is the most popular since FDR. Funny that... I wonder who'll be next...

Michelle Obama

 

 

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