Adding Moments for Reflection

by Marjorie Frank

Some weeks ago in this space, Ted Levine, president and CEO of Kids Discover, made a five-part commitment to use Kids Discover’s influence to “teach the correct values to our country’s future generations.” As a step toward fulfilling that pledge, we on the editorial side – in conjunction with Ted – set about coming up with ideas for breathing life into that commitment.

I’d like to share one of those ideas with you now. It is a feature we will be adding to existing units wherever it seems relevant. You’ll be seeing the first examples of this addition soon. To find them, look for the heading “Reflection.”

We decided on Reflection as the name for this feature because the word hints at what the feature leads readers to do: to reflect on the context, the greater meaning, or the implications of a moment in history.

At KD, we deeply appreciate that history – his (and her) story – is first and foremost a narrative, a story of events carried out by people… like us. People motivated by all manner of goals – altruistic, selfish, generous, mean. People able to embrace competing or even mutually exclusive ideas simultaneously. People able to do both monstrous and monumental things in service to an outcome.

Too often in the past, the telling of our history has been adulterated and narrowed to include the story of only some of us. Our new feature intends to address that shortcoming and expand on our understanding.

Reflection will appear wherever the content calls for additional thought or analysis. It may appear once in a unit, twice, many times, or not at all. Each time, it will ask readers to pause and consider/analyze/evaluate something they have just read.

Take, for example, a segment about the Three-Fifths Compromise, a clause in the U.S. Constitution that counted each enslaved individual as three-fifths of a person for the purpose of determining how many representatives a state was allowed in the House of Representatives. A Reflection at this point in the Kids Discover narrative might suggest that students pause to compare the substance of the Three-Fifths Compromise with the opening words of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” How do the ideas in these two texts compare? What assumptions about human beings enabled the Founders to hold both ideas simultaneously?

Like all of us, the Founders were human beings, with agendas, self-interest, and prejudice as well as creativity, brilliance, and loyalty. To recognize one quality takes nothing away from the others.

I hope you will take advantage of each Reflection to allow for discussion, exploration, and analysis among students. Our overarching goal is to bring history to life in a way a litany of names, dates, and events cannot. And to help kids understand that history is made by real people with real strengths and real weaknesses, acting in real time.

Going forward, if you have an idea for a Reflection, please don’t keep it to yourself! Let us know.

Marjorie Frank

Marjorie Frank A writer and poet by nature, an educator and linguist by training, Marjorie Frank has authored a generation of instructional materials for children of all ages, including songs, poems, stories, games, information articles and teaching guides. Marjorie has two grown children, Adam and Ben. She currently lives with an artist (whose work you can see in the Kids Discover issue on Plants) and a dog that looks like a pig.

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