Just the Facts

Last night we were discussing something at the dinner table, I don’t recall what, when out of the blue my daughter proudly asks, “do you know how Martin Luther King died?”

We love it when she shows off, of course, so we took the bait and asked how he died.  Imagine my surprise when she very boldly and happily announced that he died of old age.  Actually it started with, “my teacher told me . . .”

*huge, heavy sigh*

It took, oh, every ounce of self-restraint I had not to rant about this in front of her and outright call her teacher a liar.  (*Of course, my husband’s answer to this was, “we lie about history all the time.”*)  We calmly explained that that is not what happened.  That didn’t go over well.  She was proud of her facts, you see. 

I’m not okay with it.  I don’t think she needs gory details or anything.  I don’t think she needs very many details.  However, it’s okay for her to know that a bad man shot him with a gun and that is what killed Martin Luther King.  Also, that it was a very sad event and we lost a good person because of the actions of that person.  That is okay for her to know.  And she should know it.  It’s an important event in our history.

I don’t shelter my daughter from very much, huh?  We suspect that’s the reason for saying it was old age is perhaps the teacher was trying to shelter them from something seemingly sinister from our history (and maybe from parents that would be upset at their child’s innocence being lessened – of course, it doesn’t help that I’m the exact opposite kind of parent).   We’ve always taken a very open and honest approach with her, trying to explain things in an age-appropriate way.  It’s important to me that she be presented the truth.  Real life she’ll be sorting out for herself for the next few decades, but she needs just the facts to start out with. 

I don’t have a need to yell at talk to her teacher about it, but I do want her to know the truth.

Looks like this will be the next book I buy for her.




4 responses to “Just the Facts

  1. Sigh… That’s so frustrating. What’s educational about lies and distorted truths?! Don’t we have enough of that in life without teachers adding to it?!

  2. I think you handled it fantastically. That really irks me, part of a teacher’s job is to present the information in an accurate, age-appropriate way. PLUS I think the circumstances regarding his death are just a tad bit pertinent to his history and importance in our society, ya think? It feels like it’s cheapening his legacy to lie to the kids like that. No, they wouldn’t understand all that, but if you’re going to talk about the man, then you choose to be truthful about the man and his legacy. I got a bit worked up about this,eh? But I agree with you, no reason to talk to the teacher about it (unless it becomes a pattern) but good for Chloe to really know – especially if she’s such a stickler and proud to know the facts!

  3. 3continentfamily

    oy! You did handle it well but wow- that teacher needs a reality check. There are tactful, un-gory ways to explain difficult things to children. She needs a recap…

  4. Geeze. If the teacher was afraid of how parents would react, she should have just said, “That is something you need to talk to your parents about.” Why don’t teachers do that more???? I’m with you: just be honest. They don’t need the gory details at this age, but the basic facts are okay.

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