Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lesson 38: Learn Your Presidents

Happy President's Day, lamp post followers!  I will be enjoying a day off today in honor of the American Presidents.  I just heard all my foreign followers click the red x.  Sorry, Slovenians.  I'm a patriotic girl and have to give props to my homeland whenever I get the chance.  That should free up some cyber space for my American and Canadian readers.  Maybe your computers will all work faster.  Yes, Canadians, stay on here.  It never hurts to learn more about the country with whom you share a border. 

Eloise loves history, but there is more to learn every year.  Imagine the difficulty as a teacher.  We have to continually revisit history and condense and whittle away at the "old stuff" to make room for the "new stuff."  Throw in there the many and varied interpretations of people and events, and we history teachers have the toughest job on the planet--keeping a very important subject alive in minds of young people when the subjects being taught about are long dead. 

I have a respect for clever people.  The person who created the above video, albeit annoying on the first run through, cleverly found a way to condense presidential history into 3 minutes and 19 seconds.  It was obviously made more than ten years ago because "W" and Obama are not included in the piece.  It definitely is worth a whirl though, because I think it is everyone's responsibility to understand the basic history of their country.

I tell my students the easiest way to do this is to learn the Presidents.  I make my students memorize them from time to time.  I require them to write the last names in order from Washington to Obama--43 in all with Grover Cleveland confusing us with those two non-consecutive terms. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Adams...... I single handedly drove parents of 150 students crazy.  Children were reciting the presidents on the way to soccer practice, during dinner, and in bubbly bathtubs.  Many of my students' parents thanked me for the history brush up as well.  Once they are in your head though, you have that frame of reference.  You if you know Lincoln is the 16th president, you can easily figure out that the Civil War was around 1860.  Need to know something up or back from that date--just count your presidents.  It is like having a new tool in your toolbox.  Something you can use when you need it, like when you take a ride in the Cash Cab.  A presidents question just may buy your dinner that night, not to mention give you free cab fare.

So anyone willing to challenge themselves a bit can take it upon yourself to memorize the Presidents of the United States in order, find me.  I will have prizes for you.  See me  in person, call me, e-mail me, or text me them (that would be killer on the thumbs, wouldn't it?).  If you use one of the written methods and I don't hear your voice, you could be cheating and reading them from your friend Mr. Wikipedia.  Shame on you, Canadians.  We put our trust in the maple leaf, so don't betray it.  I live on the northern border and can zip across the lake in a matter of an hour in my father's speedboat called the Titanic.  You don't want to mess with Eloise, especially coming at you in a speed boat flying Old Glory.

Enjoy the above video.  I think you to will be amused at how the creator put it all together.  My students enjoyed it and we are all kids at heart, so I believe you will too.

Happy President's Day.
Eloise--Commander in Chief, Lamp Post Dharma Station

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