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The Constitution of the United States hanging in Mr. Blanton’s classroom

From the violent attack on the United States Capitol to this week’s Inauguration Day, historical moments are unfolding in real time, giving history teachers and their students opportunities to examine current events through a historical lens. 

“It’s essential we address January 6th. Our U.S. History classes are a place where one can grapple with the nuance of the Constitution and the ethics of a democracy,” says Matt Blanton, history faculty member. “The challenge is the events unfolding are a moving target—what was previously understood could be different—it requires being nimble. This is a good time to reiterate the best practices of critical thinking.” 

In response to the events at the U.S. Capitol, the student History Club held a virtual panel last Thursday evening. Five teachers answered questions submitted by students and Jonathan Cao ’21 and Alex Wang ’21 moderated. Questions included whether the U.S. has ever been culturally unified and if there ever was a time in history where America was “great.” One student was curious about what connections police institutions have to white nationalist organizations and the origins of those connections. Another student asked whether there are similarities between today’s American society and periods in the past such as pre-WWII Germany. 

History faculty will continue to make space during their class times for questions and discussions as students grapple with the unfolding and dynamic events in our country.