Monday, March 19, 2007

Missionary Position

Every fourth grader in California studies California history. I suppose it is the same in other states...it is the year for State history. In the fifth grade, they study U.S. history. But I am getting ahead of myself there. Today, I am talking about California history. A big component of which is apparently the mission system. Fourth graders from far and wide come from the beginning to the end of each school year requesting books and other materials for reports and building projects relating to one or more of the 21 missions in the system. This year my youngest son studied Mission San Juan Capistrano. That is how I happen to know that today, March 19, is the traditionally noted day for the swallows to return to the mission each year. It is a big touristy deal. Mission San Juan Capistrano is quite beautiful and looks like it would have been a fabulous place to live back in the day. I haven't seen all 21 missions, but they all appear at least in pictures to be lovely. Unfortunately, the mission system was corrupt and cruel to the Native Americans whom the missionaries and soldiers "recruited" to help build and maintain the missions. The goal was to instruct the heathen natives in Catholicism, make them into Spanish citizens so that they would have to pay taxes to the Spanish government, at which time the missions would be secularized and turned over to the Native Americans to run as profitable settlements.
I have had to learn about missions five different times, so I consider myself quite the expert. Now you know a little something too. Just in case you ever have some 9 year old Californian coming up to you wanting a little sumpin' sumpin' about the bad old days of the Mission system. Word.

6 comments:

Rachel said...

I had to learn Washington State History.
Wouldn't it be fun if you had to learn a random states history every year?
This year it Nebraska
Next year it could be Connecticut.

David in DC said...

Fourth grade is state history in Virginia too. Monkeyboy is all over it.

But because the majority of kids in his school are immigrants or first-generation Americans, the school also does a fourth grade project where each child researches and reports on where his/her ancestors came from.

RFB and I are both Jews of Eastern or Central European descent.

We grew up in the same town, and Monkeyboy's three living grandparents all still live there, as did his great-grandma, who just passed away a couple of years ago.

That's apparantly as far back as "ancestor" goes in his imagination.

Because the report he did on his ancestral homeland was about Rochester, NY.

l.b. said...

Rachel: I would love that, because I now feel that I know enough about California history to last a lifetime. Bring on Rhode Island!

David: I suppose the land where your great-grandparents roamed is about as far back as most fourth graders care to harken.
Both my family and my kids' dad's family are very mutt-like melanges. My ex is half Creek, so that is the easiest thing for the kids to point to and probably the most interesting...

evil-e said...

You have the swallows, we have the buzzards which return to Hinckley about the same day.

Nice title by the way, you are rolling with the double entendres of late.

Babybull40 said...

I live in Canada and I don't recall the teachers teaching about provincial history..Maybe I skippped that day.. Well in either case it's important that kids know something about where they live.. Without history we have no future for our Grandchildren..

l.b. said...

Evil-E: Oooh, buzzards! Sounds much more interesting!
Thanks for noticing my wordplay :-)

BabyBull: You're right,it is very important for the kids to learn about where they live. I always think of the saying "Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it."