WESTCHESTER, NY -- As experimental teaching methods become more and more popular across progressive American cities, one 10th grade teacher in a small New York suburb is leading the way.
Rachel Falmouth, a teacher at Westchester High, has created a lesson plan for students to learn about Thanksgiving by researching the Pilgrim-Wampanoag treaty, visiting local historical sites, and watching as the overwhelming majority of their peers die a slow and gruesome death due to dysentery.
“It’s important that kids understand our nation’s history in an immediate, visceral way,” said Falmouth. “It’s one thing to tell kids about that colonial moment -- it’s another to have them experience it, firsthand.”
Administration at Westchester High agrees. “With these kids, a lecture goes in one ear and out the other” said school principal Joseph Greenblatt. “But lying helplessly as the life drains out of you due to violent abdominal pains? That’s gonna leave an impact.”
Local parents and activists have pushed back against the curriculum.
“Exposing Westchester’s kids to this kind of disease is nothing short of morally repugnant,” said local activist group FreeEdu. “If you want to do justice to teaching America’s colonial past, you should be giving them smallpox instead.”
Students involved in the program were unavailable for comment.