In preparation for Thanksgiving, my son’s first grade class constructed three villages to compare and contrast the ways of life of three peoples: The Wampanoag Indians, 17th century Plymouth Plantation, and the Modern Suburb.
First, the handout. This came home in his backpack, conveniently labeled with his specific assignment:
Initial reaction: “He has to build a WHAT by WHEN?”
But then, I really read it. Now, sure, I wish he had the assignment to build a “tree.” I can do trees. But apparently, modern life has no trees. No rivers. No animals. (Well, no chickens — we’re not allowed chickens in my town per statute. But there are lots of yappy dogs!)
But we have, explicitly, a Target. Note that the coffee shop is not a Caribou or Starbucks, the grocery is not a Cub. And we have a gas station. But we have an explicitly branded Target being raised in this First Grade Model Town. We don’t have Park N Ride lots, municipal services, townhomes or multi-unit dwellings.
So what we have is two communal early American villages. And one suburb without trees.
What did they learn from this? Well, the main thing I got is “Indians and Pilgrims hunted in the forest, but some people still go to Wisconsin and hunt today!” Yeah, that was apparently my kid’s big takeaway.
Join me in reading too much into this. And be thankful if you have trees and rivers.