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Teachers Rethink the Real Lessons of Thanksgiving

By guest blogger Kathleen Kennedy Manzo

Thanksgiving is often seen as a quintessential feel-good holiday—but many argue the way its taught in schools perpetuates a myth and dishonors Native Americans. 

Now, there's a growing movement to help history teachers "unlearn" what they were taught about Thanksgiving so they can teach their students about that time period through a more accurate and nuanced lens. The holiday is often romanticized as a gathering of friends, and students rarely learn about the brutal treatment of Native Americans. But not everyone agrees students should be taught the more challenging aspects of U.S. history, believing instead we should emphasize American exceptionalism so children can feel proud of their past. 

This piece for PBS NewsHour from Correspondent Kavitha Cardoza is part of an ongoing Education Week initiative: Citizen Z: Teaching Civics in a Divided Nation. As part of the project, Edweek has examined the various ways U.S. History is taught in different parts of the country, conducted a survey of first-time voters, and visited classrooms where students debated the results of the midterm elections and learned the importance of civil discourse, even when people disagree strongly about an issue.

In the months ahead, we will continue to address some of the best practices and pressing issues in ensuring U.S. students have the knowledge and skills they need to be engaged citizens.


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