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April 17, 2008

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Trevor

Fascinating stuff. I'm also reminded of the classroom activity a couple years ago that caused a too-minor ripple where a history teacher was reenacting . . . something slave-related. Memory's foggy, but weren't they mimicking being packed into slave ships? I'm not digging through your archives, but I think you covered it at the time.

Whatever it was, clearly the teacher was playing with fire. They were unable to reproduce the severity and horror of the reality and so produced an inauthentic experience that trivialized slavery's awfulness.

Brendan Wolfe

I was just thinking about that the other day, too, Trevor. Here's the link:

http://beiderbecke.typepad.com/tba/2006/01/oprah_lopate_an.html

It contains a long quote from Phillip Lopate about attempts by educators to create situations in which students "empathize" with slaves or victims of the Holocaust by "reliving" those experiences -- by being chained up for a day or whatever.

Total BS from Lopate's point of view.

This touches on similar issues, but in Williamsburg, anyway, the scope of what they were doing was much more limited. Slave interpreters and their audience were experiencing a very accessible byproduct of slavery -- which was the separation of families. Not as dramatic as chaining everyone up, but in the end more real and more powerful.

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