Klu Klux Klassroom: Georgia Teacher Employs Method Acting to Teach History of Racism

According to Lumpkin County High School teacher Catherine Ariemma, in order to truly understand the ways of the Klu Klux Klan and their effects on racism in the States, you must become them. Last week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, Ariemma dressed up four of her advanced placement students in Klan getup to teach them the history of Grade-A racism in the 'States, coneheaded hoodies included.

The students were in costume for a "film project" in which they were to reenact a KKK event, or Klonvocation. But surprise! When the four students participating in the project were spotted on campus as Ariemma led them through the cafeteria, students and parents alike were outraged.

Ariemma argues that the reenactment was only meant to help the students learn history, citing that film projects are often used as a teaching device to boost memory by interacting with the material. She concedes that maybe she should have conducted that portion of the project off-campus in order to avoid offense and disruption. Or a national news story.

Controversy aside, one question remains: The fire-burning crosses, widespread domestic terrorism, and those creepy ghost costumes don't automatically scar into the memory of young APUSH students? Couldn't...a picture...in a textbook...or a previously recorded documentary have sufficed? Is is really necessary to "interact" with the KKK's sentiments of racial hatred?

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Probably not. At least not here. But they say you learn something new everyday, and even award-winning teachers like Ariemma are no exception. Below, for future reference, a list of ten other horribly inappropriate events in U.S. history you should never reenact during class time or otherwise, lest you want it to get blogged about without the advantage of whatever insane "context" you'd construct around it on your side:

1. Japanese Internment. 2. The Trail of Tears. 3. McCarthy Trials. 4. Operation Midnight Climax a/k/a CIA Mind Control experiments. 5. Waterboarding. 6. Watergate. 7. Lewinskygate. 8. Heaven's Gate. 9. Scarface. 10. MLK Jr. Assassination. Yes, Malcom X's, too.

[awerner@villagevoice.com]


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