April 25 marks the official beginning of the U.S.-Mexico War in 1846. Rethinking Schools editor Bill Bigelow explains the importance of teaching outside the textbook about the war:
Today’s border with Mexico is the product of invasion and war. Grasping some of the motives for that war and some of its immediate effects begins to provide students the kind of historical context that is crucial for thinking intelligently about the line that separates the United States and Mexico. It also gives students insights into the justifications for and costs of war today.
Bigelow is the author of a free downloadable lesson called “U.S. Mexico War: “We Take Nothing by Conquest, Thank God’.” The lesson features a reading by Howard Zinn and a role play with many voices on the war typically missing from textbooks such as: Cochise, Colonel Ethan Allen Hitchcock, Frederick Douglass, General Mariano Vallejo, Henry David Thoreau, María Josefa Martínez, Padre Antonio José Martínez, the Saint Patrick’s Battalion, and many more. A version of the lesson is also available in Spanish.
Find the lesson and more resources for teaching about the border below.