It's interesting that sometimes different parts of your life converge. This happened this past Friday. We were waiting for a staff member in Geography and Maps to start her tour for a group of middle school students when John Hebert, the head of the Geography and Maps, came out to say hello. He is a very strong proponent of teachers using maps in the classroom and has done a number of presentations for our workshops. One of my favorite sayings of his is that maps can show us where something took place and why it took place there and the role that the land played in a particular event.
We started chatting with him and he started talking about the importance of looking at the map and the point of view it provides. He noted that maps are often created as publicity items and that often panoramic maps (you can see examples on our Panoramic Maps website were done to highlight the number of churches or fancy homes in a particular town. I remembered another map that one of his colleagues regularly uses in teacher workshops of Virginia that instead of being oriented with north at the top it is oriented with west at the top to indicate that England now owns Virginia and the land extends to the opposite coast. John also talked about the fact that many of the maps we have of the United States were done by the English and they ignore the points of view of the other countries that were stakeholders in the new United States. He told us they just obtained a map that documented the Louisiana territory and noted that Jefferson did not have a map of the territory (there was actually no map, only a description) and that there were conflicts on how far the land went. Jefferson originally suggested the territory went into Florida which was technically Spanish territory. When he talked about he English-centric maps I was taken back to Takaki and the focus on England to the exclusion of the other European countries and also thought about the discussion about the various other countries that did exploration. I was so focused in on the English that I never thought about the other explorers from other countries that were out learning about their world.
When I saw the chapter was about slavery I was all set to highlight our African American collections (many of which focus on during and after the Civil War) but when I saw the focus was on early America and the change from indentured servitude to slavery I had to rethink what I would do and how I would teach the students.
I really would want to be working with the English teacher in my school if I were teaching with this book because I would want the students to do reading and analysis of The Tempest while also reading Takaki. I think there are some excellent opportuntites for collaboration and comparison and contract between Caliban and the natives and how the English treated the Irish and the Africans kidnapped for servitude and eventually slavery. I might also ask the English teacher to show some of Phyllis Wheatley's poetry and have the English teacher focus on the meanings of the poems while I focused on what was going on with Wheatley and other Africans at the time.
As a warm up I would probably ask the students to define indentured servants and slaves and then talk about the differences. I would also want to ask them why eventually those indentured servants that were white were eventually allowed to become free while eventually those were black were kept in servitude for life. I'd like to have the students look at page 56 where Christian Miller was severely punished and forced into additional seven years of service after running away and why Emmanuel was forced to remain a slave. I would also like to have the students look at some of the writings of Jefferson and ask why he had such conflicted feelings about slavery. I might also bring up Sally Hemmings depending on the group of students I was working with and ask if his relationship with her might have played a role in his conflict about slavery.
I would also like to use the idea of looking for the overarching point of the chapter with the students. What do they think Takaki was trying to say in this chapter and what would he like the readers to learn from reading this chapter.