A Week in Review (5/9-5/15): Teaching the Civil War, Everyone Hates McClellan, Chemistry Burns

Good evening, everyone! Time for another edition of the wonderful series that details how good (and more often) how bad my week went. There was no article last week because nothing noteworthy happened, but this time around was a little more interesting.

  • My semester came to an excruciating end on Tuesday. This was, without a doubt, the worst fifteen weeks of my life. Three of the four classes I had met twice a week, two were boring as all hell, and one was just downright horrible. I passed them all, thankfully, kissing my perfect record of three straight semesters of nothing but A’s up to the heavens and settling for a B+ and C+ in two classes I should not have had to even take. My chemistry class, which was probably the worst educational experience of my life, left me with a feeling of euphoria, knowing I would never have to listen to that garbage again. But how I really celebrated its end comes at the bottom of this article.
  • Now to the good part of my week, which was teaching the Civil War at the high school I graduated from. Every once in a while, I will go there and sit in with one of the history teachers I had. Next year, I will be doing fieldwork there, and the year after that will bring me my student teaching. I am trying to get ahead in the game a little bit by going some times before I have to. It has allowed me to pay more attention to the inner workings of a classroom, and get a read on other teachers and their personalities.
  • The teacher I was with this Tuesday and Wednesday was in the middle of the Civil War, and I emailed her and asked if I could help in any way. She was happy I asked and let me use the same PowerPoints I use for the local park system where I give lectures. The one I am doing tomorrow night, on Antietam, I tested out on Tuesday in front of two classes, each having more than thirty students. I had been there in January, so the kids kind of knew me already. They listened to what I had to say, behaving very well, and some even asked questions, showing that they actually care. Whether they did this because they thoroughly enjoyed it or I was just a fresh voice for a day or two, I do not know, but it went very smoothly and I had a lot of fun. The teacher even made me make up a quiz for them the next day, so that ensured they would take notes. At the end of each presentation, I told them all I could about Gods and Generals, and how Antietam was coming in to the extended cut. Lo and behold, that day, when I got home, it was on my doorstep.
  • It was in that classroom that I came to the realization that everyone hates McClellan. No matter what setting, no matter what age group I talk to, after I go into my George Brinton McClellan routine, people get angry. In the second presentation I gave, someone shouted out in the back of the class, “I’m really beginning to hate this guy!”. One of the other history teachers I sat in with also asked me why the Union generals were so terrible. All I could say was, “Well, they all became politicians after the war.” He said, “Go figure.” and walked away. Another thing you can go figure? McClellan became governor of New Jersey in 1878.
  • On Wednesday, I did my presentation on Fredericksburg, and then we watched about twenty minutes worth of G & G. It brought out the same response I expected, when students asked, essentially, “How come they kept charging?” You would think after two or three times, the Union would have learned. Instead, they were stupid stubborn—they charged sixteen times on Marye’s Heights.
  • One last thing: it has just been brought to my attention that the world is going to end on Saturday. If this is true, it was wonderful blogging for all of you for the last year. The good part about this? Other than Ron Maxwell and the editors, I will be the only person on the planet to have seen this exact version of Gods and Generals…too bad no one will know it.

Did you witness something stupid this week? Have a good story that you would like included in the next column? Email it to me, and if it deals with stupidity in some way, I’ll publish it in the next edition!

Click here to read last week’s edition.

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One thought on “A Week in Review (5/9-5/15): Teaching the Civil War, Everyone Hates McClellan, Chemistry Burns

  1. Pingback: A Week in Review (6/13-6/19): My Cat, Bad Drivers, the Business Specializes in Stupidity « From New York to San Francisco

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