In the MS, our social studies focus this year has been, and will continue to be, ancient civilizations. For the past three weeks, our class has been running a simulation in order to learn about the Fertile Crescent, and the birth of civilizations. The basic idea of our simulation is that the class is divided among five tribes of hunter-gatherers in the Fertile Crescent region (Hittites, Babylonians, Persians, Phoenicians, and Medes). The clans must work together to build public works projects, use written language, plan military strategy, and compete against the other tribes in the region to become The Greatest Empire of the Ancient World. Along the way, students read, write, create art projects and models, and present speeches and dramatic presentations to learn how civilization arose in Mesopotamia. I’ve rarely seen a class so excited! We could easily spend all day, every day, learning about Mesopotamia (and battling neighboring tribes, and completing projects), but we can’t.
We have other important work to do, and other histories to learn about. In addition to learning about the stories of people who lived five or six thousand years ago, middle school students are learning that their own stories are important, and worthy of telling. A month ago, when I began to ask that students write their stories down, I heard a lot of, “Nothing I do is very interesting. I haven’t done anything to write about. Nothing I can write about is good enough!” It took a couple of weeks for some kids, but now everyone realizes that their lives are important, and stories about those small moments in our lives, properly recorded and told, are powerful. I’ve read and heard stories about 4-H projects, new pets, old pets, road trips, fender-benders, amusement parks, family vacations, cat vomit, cancer, video games, wipe-outs and near misses, heavy equipment. . . the list goes on and on. And that’s what I asked for: everyday stories, of everyday life. And guess what? They are good enough. In fact, they are amazing.
The kids and staff at the Middle School would like to share these stories with you on Wednesday, October 19th. Check with your middle school student to find out when, and in which classroom, they will be telling their stories, and please plan on staying throughout the entire session (check with your student for a handout with their sessions time). You won’t want to miss this evening of storytelling entertainment!