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Teachable Moment With Dad

I have previously wrote my praises for The Henry Ford, so most of you know I enjoy spending time at this amazing attraction in Dearborn, Michigan.  Today I was fascinated with the newly remodeled "Driving America" exhibit.  Of course the current big draw is The Titanic Artifact Exhibit, but my kids and I decided to save that for another visit this summer.  I learn so much with each visit, but today I was able to share a teachable moment with my children.

Now, working in a high school, I hear phrase "teachable moment" often.  When a true "teachable moment" comes along in school it is a blessing.  "Teachable moments" usually create excellent discussion and everyone walks away learning much more than they would via a normal lesson plan.  One of the best aspects of my "job" as a dad is that there are no lesson plans; "teachable moments" are a daily occurrence.  Today was no different.  While walking through the Civil Rights section of the With Liberty and Justice for All Exhibit my children came across a display of the Klu Klux Klan.  The display is hard to miss, with a full white robe and hood on display.  Now my daughter (age 7) has some background on the Civil Rights Movement thanks to discussions at home and her Social Studies lessons at school.  One of her favorite stops at the museum is the famous Rosa Park's Bus.  Today was the first time the Klan display caught her eye.  What happened next was both a great teachable moment and heartbreaking at the same time.

Chloe Enjoying her favorite attraction during a previous Henry Ford Visit

Chloe and Nate approached the display.  Nate, who is nearly five, immediately had questions about the "scary mask."  Before I could answer Chloe started reading one of signs near the display that explains the Klan's background.  Nate looked on with wide eyes as his older sister read of the horrors of the KKK.  I do not recall the exact working of the sign, but it mentions the Klan's reign of terror against African Americans, Jews, immigrants and Catholics.  A piece of art included in the display depicts a lynching.  Chloe was shocked by what she read.  I immediately went in to teacher mode and explained that not only were people treated unfairly because of their skin color or religion, but a great number were assaulted or murdered.  My son put two and two together (we are Catholic) and immediately became afraid of the robe and hood, literally thinking he could be attacked.  I actually saw fear in his eyes just looking at the robe.  It was tough explaining that in our not-so-distant history many terrible things took place, but I did what I had to do as a parent and stressed the importance of learning from past mistakes.  We walked on and I assured him that our entire family was safe, and besides a few cowards running around spewing hate, the Klan is an embarrassment from our country's history.

As we walked throughout the rest of the museum Nate mentioned a few times that he felt bad about the people "that creepy guy in white killed or hurt."  After explaining there are some people that are just cruel and evil, I reminded him and my daughter that we treat others with compassion.  The only people they need to avoid in life are cruel or hurtful people.  All I can hope for is my children to continue to grow to be compassionate, loving individuals that do not hate for shallow or ignorant reasons.  Thankfully, they are off to a good start.

Chloe and Nate Wing-Walking at The Henry Ford


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