A Student Inspired Class Assignment --


Truths Behind What We've Been Told

From email

 We have this honors class where the curriculum is in part flexible. So at the beginning of the term we spend quite a bit of time trying to figure out what we will study.

Someone said that she had learned in a class that the personal lives of some of the great people are quite different that what ends up in textbooks. She gave some surprising examples.

The teacher asked if just learning good things about history's heroes gives people unrealistic and unreachable standards to try to live up to -- standards that lead us to us to feeling dejected when we fall far short.

He mentioned that some school boards don't want certain personally or politically unflattering facts mentioned in textbooks. He gave some examples from Texas, which not only buys millions of dollars in books for its own schools, but through its economic clout influences textbook content for the whole nation.

>>This started quite an argument with some students saying that we didn't need to know "the dirt" abut our heroes and others saying that it was important to know that they were human just like us.

The majority ruled and we decided to dig deeper than the textbook accounts of some our favorite people in history.

>>I chose Albert Einstein and Mark Twain, two people I had always admired. Both lived recently enough to have uncensored things written about them, something the instructor said was important in getting to the truth behind the sanitized accounts.

In my research here are a few things I found out.

  • Einstein, science's number one hero by far, had a daughter with his first wife, but after the two divorced he never knew what happened to her, saying that he'd heard she either was adopted or died of scarlet fever. He never found out.

    Einstein had taken up with his cousin before his divorce and he eventually married her. (She was his first cousin maternally and his second cousin paternally.) Einstein, who died in 1955, is recognized as being the greatest mind in science and the most famous one,  giving us, among other things, the famous E= MC2.
  • Mark Twain (Samuel Clements) is history's most noted American writer and humorist. His early life was varied and difficult to the point that he considered suicide. Although in his later years he enjoyed considerable wealth from his work, after the death of a child and then his beloved wife, he dissolved into a funk that lasted until his death in 1910.

>>The teacher pointed out two things from our reports that have stuck in my mind.

  • Adversity often creates character and if it doesn't get the best of you it can be a driving force behind major accomplishments.

  • Maybe it makes it easier to face our own personal problems if we know that some of the great people in history also had major problems to overcome.

    >>See A Face Of An Angel, which is related.