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"The History Teacher"
Transcript of "The History Teacher"
Anne Hunter Stephens, Max Caskie,
and Timmy Faillace "The History Teacher"
By Billy Collins Title Could be simply about a history teacher
Another possibility is that this poem could evoke a memory of an old history teacher
The subjects of the poem may be learning from the speaker Paraphrase Connotation Understatement of the historical events contributes to the meaning that the history teacher is not actually protecting them, but putting them at a disadvantage as he is not teaching them how the world really works
The ideal setting of the white picket fences and the simplified lessons contrast with the harsh reality of what he should be teaching them and the scene on the playground
It is also ironic that, despite the teacher's efforts to desensitize the children, their actions are still cruel Attitude Shifts Title Theme Wants to protects his students' innocence by simplifying major events in history
He replaces the Ice Age with "the Chilly Age" and the Stone Age with "the Gravel Age"
Other events, such as the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and the War of Roses, are taught as being almost silly and childish rather than serious and monumental
After leaving the classroom, the children torment and bully other children on the playground
The Teacher walks home, blissfully unaware of what effect his lessons are actually having The attitude of the teacher is that history is something too sensitive and graphic for children to understand
The attitude of the speaker is somewhat sarcastic in saying that this perception of oversimplifying history to protect children is doing the opposite of just that In line 14, there is a shift from describing the teacher's lessons to painting a picture of the children and how they act outside of the classroom
In line 18, the harsh reality of the kids' cruel actions is contrasted with the blissful ignorance of the teacher
This shows that he truly does not recognize the ramifications of his lessons After reading the poem, the title is ironic because "the history teacher" isn't actually teaching history Protecting the innocence of children by lessening the harshness of reality only hurts them in the end
If history is not learned the way it actually happened, it is bound to repeat itself
It is better to deal with the cruel reality of things and walk away more knowledgeable