Did you know that Benjamin Franklin thought that our National bird should have been the turkey instead of the bald eagle? Apparently he saw the turkey as a symbol of courage because they attacked British soldiers during the Revolution. On the other hand, he thought that the bald eagle was lazy because it is known to steal fish from other birds.
Interesting fact, huh? Fun footnote to history, yes?
Would you be surprised, then if the above information was the focus of a lesson on the Bald Eagle as a National Symbol? I certainly was!
I pulled my National Symbols (by Splash! Publications-for grades 1-3) workbook off the shelf today to plan a lesson on the Great Seal. It gave an explanation of what all of the symbols on the Great Seal mean (olive branch=peace, arrows=strength, etc) but it didn't say what the eagle symbolized. So I flipped back to a previous lesson about the Bald Eagle to remind myself what it said. I was shocked to realize that the only useful information it said is that it was chosen as a symbol of freedom.
In this "Bald Eagle" lesson (it is very simple, two pages, large print, double spaced) it contains 15 lines about the Great Seal and 15 lines about the turkey as I summarized above. Only 14 lines were about the bald eagle! And everything that it says is focused around describing the eagle's appearance and what it eats.
Seriously? There was no absolutely no explanation as to why the founding fathers chose it as a national symbol. It said nothing about how confident, majestic, powerful, or awe-inspiring bald eagles are.
Clearly, the focus of the lesson was on why the founding fathers were idiots for choosing it and why they should have chosen the turkey instead. Even the little 4 question review test is a joke. Here are the questions:
1. The bald eagle is our national A)flower B)bird C)tree
2. Talons are A)wings B)turtles C)claws
3. Benjamin Franklin thought the bald eagle was A)strong B)ugly C)lazy
4. Do you agree with Benjamin Franklin? Explain the reason for your answer.
The workbook also includes a little card game to reinforce knowledge about the turkey and bald eagle (basically just phrases taken directly from the lesson.)
Could the anti-"American Exceptionalism" attitude be any more obvious?? I thought I bought this book to teach my daughters what the symbols of our nation stood for? I didn't buy it to teach them that our founding fathers were fools.
And you know the saddest part? When I taught the girls this lesson a couple months ago, I didn't even realize the problem. Well, I'm going to correct that tomorrow. Before I teach them about the Great Seal, I'm going to teach them about what an amazing animal the great Bald Eagle is. Maybe I can find a copy of the video, "Ride the High Places." I watched that about a million times when I was a kid at every Eagle Court of Honor I attended (my family is big into Boy Scouts.)