Slave auction refers to the events whereby slaves are sold to donors in an auction style. This means that the highest bidder becomes the ‘owner’ after close inspection of the slave he/ she is interested in. The purchaser pokes, prods and forces the slave to open the mouth for appropriate scrutiny. The Virginia teacher demonstrated civil war by placing black students and mixed race students up for a slave auction. The white children proceeded to bid for the black and mixed race students who were being auctioned (Ricks 12)
Demonstration is a good teaching technique that makes lessons interesting and easily understandable but the extent of demonstration should be considered to avoid exposure of its disadvantages which include accusations of being biased , incompetent and the psychological effects it had on the black students .
The black and mixed race students should consider this as any other ordinary class demonstration aimed at making them understand the topic of civil war better. Demonstration could also help in making such events seem real. The teacher was objectively keen on fulfilling her duty. Since they were in two groups they should understand that the other group that comprised of white students could also have been placed on auction for demonstration purposes and that the chance of either group being put for slave auction was 50/50.
The parents of the black and mixed race students were concerned because their children were placed on a slave auction and in their view this is an act of racism and mockery. Despite the demonstration being without any ill motive there was poor timing.
This is because the day (Tuesday, 1st April) of the lesson came just two weeks before the 150th anniversary of civil war. The school was named after one of the civil war’s bloodiest battles and therefore there were still some fresh memories of the battle. The demonstrations and exercises of the Virginia teacher were untimely and off-limit.
After a careful review of both sides’ opinions, I believe that demonstrations are a way of making the content of the lesson easily understandable. It showed the teacher’s inventive approach and good intentions to boost performance of her students by making the lesson on civil war easily understandable among all the students.
The teacher could have however demonstrated the civil way differently. For example, by randomly handing over two different colored papers say blue and red that the students would then pick randomly. The group with either color could then represent either the blacks or the whites to demonstrate a similar situation without raising feelings and making either group feel uncomfortable and inferior. The students could then switch sides to see a very impartial circumstance without either side feeling segregated.
It is important to note that the lesson was properly planned to meet the instructional objectives of civil war and the teacher had the freedom to make the content of her lesson understandable to all students. This, she did by use of demonstration using black students as auction slaves and the white students as the buyers of the ‘slaves’. Despite the teacher’s demonstration being good, she acted with bias, prejudice and her execution was narrow sighted, poor and unsatisfactorily timed.
Ricks, Mary. Escape on the Pearl: the Heroic Bid for Freedom on the Underground Railroad .New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007. Print.