We began this COVID season with a group of teachers generating a set of compelling questions. What is the balance between freedom and security? Will a virus heal the partisan divide? How will disease change the world? When this list of questions was first published, no one knew if we could answer them but, like the teachers we are, we planned to try.
We generated these questions in a spirit of hope and as we thought things couldn’t possibly get worse, right? We hoped the months of March and April were the worst of the year, that time would tick on and things would get better. We did not know that 2020 had more to throw at us and that, instead of answering our questions, “worst” continued to unfold into new questions: Can we return to normal? Does law and order mean justice? When does a moment become a movement? What will it take to unify America? Is this broken? Can we fix this? It seems there is no respite for our tired feet as we trudge through this year’s remaining months. What new questions will 2020 bring in its remaining days?
Sitting with these questions, I am reminded of Zora Neale Hurston’s words: “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” This is a year which asks questions and boy are they hardballs. As social studies educators and C3 teachers, we continue to question and encourage our students to inquire about the world because we continue to believe in the magic of the classroom that moves to the beat of questions, tasks, and sources. As long as we continue to question, we haven’t given up hope. At the end of the day, our questions are evidence of our ability to hold out hope for the future.
This year, two things remain obvious: We need good social studies and we need good social studies teachers. We might not be able to answer all the questions we have, but we need to keep asking and answering what we can. We are, indeed, hearty people who will carry on the work of inquiry.