Friday, March 20, 2009

Teaching About The Mormons (or "How many wives do you have?")

Teaching U.S. History in Texas at this time of year means we're cruising through "Manifest Destiny" and the Westward Expansion of the United States. "Mormons" obviously fit within this broad context of our American story, so "we" learn about "them", while I happen to be "one" (along with only one other student I teach).

It's the one time of the school year that I am strangely self-conscious and comfortable at the same time. It's been a fascinating self-reflective experience; simultaneously full of educational opportunity, but also of personal incongruity.

Things have changed a lot since then.


Gatsby said...

Do the students know you are one?

Either way, that is an interesting situation to be in.

Clean Cut said...

Most of my students were aware that I'm a Mormon. Some found out for the first time. Some are learning for the first time that a Mormon is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many had never heard about Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, or the Mormon trail (let alone, polygamy).

None of them knew about the fact that the Mormons were the only American religious group to have an extermination order issued against them. That really seemed to appeal to their sense of justice, tolerance, and the American ideal of freedom of religion which we learn so much about in the founding of America. That alone is very eye-opening.

Gatsby said...