Today we celebrate a great man who tirelessly fought for the rights of everyone. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who, through hard work, perseverance, overcoming obstacles, and a greater purpose helped to change the world. His “I Have a Dream” speech inspired many to take up that cause. Is his dream fulfilled. Not yet, but thanks to countless individuals who fight for liberty and justice across the world for all people, I hope to see it in my lifetime.
When you add the article ‘the’ to the title of my post, you get the title of a movie I saw this weekend, “The King’s Speech” which I highly recommend. I won’t spoil it here by summarizing plot, but it is also about a man, King Goerge VI of England who, through hard work, perseverance, overcoming obstacles, and a greater purpose also had an impact on the world.
Not having gone to elementary school or high school here, American History is viewed somewhat differently. Here we look at this country’s history from within, elsewhere they look at it (if at all) from the outside. While I knew of Dr. King growing up, it wasn’t central to the social studies program at my school. Growing up in Hong Kong (then still a colony of Britain), I attended an elementary school based on the British school system. Had my family stayed, the secondary school I most likely would have attended was named King George V school. Still a colony by the time we left, what I can remember of any social studies classes were those of British History – in England. I learned about Kings and Queens, William the Conqueror, Guy Fawkes, Parliament, the geography of England, and so on. What I never learned in school was the history of Hong Kong, cultural information, nor the geography. Thankfully, things have changed, and looking at the website of my former school, I see that, while instruction is purposefully done in English, they have a second language program in Mandarin which also features history and culture. I think I would have benefited from a class like that.
It’s been 30 years since I’ve returned to Hong Kong, and I can hardly wait until our break in April where I’ve planned a trip to return. In doing so, I started reading about what to do and trying to see if any of it sparked any childhood memories. As I started discovering the history of Hong Kong in the travel books, what struck me was that I had never learned this. Any of it! Any history, I got from my grandparents (one who fought against the Japanese who occupied Hong Kong during WWII and was interred as a prisoner of war until his escape. I only wish I had the curiosity I have now to ask him more questions. Nor was the local language (Cantonese) taught. I acquired it out of necessity. I spoke it, but didn’t read nor write Chinese. In brushing up some of what I do know, I was looking at the vast array of vocabulary that didn’t even exist when I left such as: Email, wireless internet, ATM, or “Text me.”
It is true that there would be too many subjects to cover if we were to teach everything, especially history as events keep getting added. Nonetheless, it’s important for children, even in this flattening world, to learn about their own history (both personal and political), their communities (school, neighborhood and other), and so on. Multicultural/Diversity education is crucial to the dream Dr. King once had. When we see that we have more in common than our differences, and see those differences as strengths rather than fear them, there’s no telling what we can do.
King George VI had to deliver a speech to his nation to rally the people in order to stop Hitler. Dr. King delivered one to rally his nation to work for justice. In today’s youtube age, it’s quite rich to be able and view the video of Dr. Martin Luther King delivering that speech at the Lincoln Memorial. For those reluctant to accept technology in the classroom, just remembered what your teachers had to do to show you his speech. If you were lucky, you received the text and an audio recording. If you were lucky enough to view the speech, your teacher would have had to book the reel-to-reel projector, order the film (at great cost), and set up the film. Now, you can hook your laptop to a projector and get it free in a couple of clicks. One things’ for sure, teachers also have to work toward these universal values: hard work and effort, the ability to fail and persevere, a purpose to unite people. In other words, the 3 R’s – rigor, resilience, and relationships.
This is a clear example where technology can save you time. One can also embed these vidoes into their websites/blogs/wikis, etc. so here it is. Enjoy the rest of this marvelous holiday.