The Lower School Social Studies program teaches children about themselves, their families, their city, state and country. Finally, it teaches them about the world. In the beginning, though, our families are our worlds. It’s important to get a firm foundation in who we are to better understand the wider world around us. Last fall, our 3rd graders began to deeply explore their family histories.
They started with a trip to the History Museum to participate in the Curator for a Day program. That experience was a springboard for their Family History Project, where they interviewed family members to learn how they came to live in St. Louis, including when and why. Then they made interactive displays, or “museum exhibits,” that encouraged visitors to learn about each student’s personal history. These 3rd grade curators offered a variety of photos, games, charts, flags and narratives to catch the attention of their visitors and share important information. They gave personal tours for guests for Family History Museum Day on Thursday, November 14. Family members enjoyed their tours, and special guests Head of School Jay Rainey and Assistant Head of School Brian Thomas also toured the exhibit.
Mr. Rainey said, “I was struck by each student’s contextualization of his or her family’s story within the larger story of immigration to the United States from other nations and regions. I was reminded by several young curators that American history has included four major periods of immigration. I was also reminded of the most common reasons for immigration (“economic opportunity, freedom from persecution”) and of the fact that immigration has historically been voluntary, even hope-filled, with the notable exception of the massive involuntary immigration of Africans to North and South America through the transatlantic slave trade. In short, I was so very impressed by the command of these curator-students not only of their own family histories, but of St. Louis and United States history as well.
We have so many stories to offer at MICDS, and we must find opportunities to tell and listen to them all.”