LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Students at Foothills Montessori School are learning U.S. History by going beyond the books with a Civil War reenactment, where students became soldiers for a day in a Civil War simulation called CIT – Confederate Instructional Training.
Educators have essentially worked to recreate the first day of 1860s bootcamp.
The goal of FMS educators is for students to gain genuine understanding and empathy for what soldiers experience.
As their U.S. History Teacher, Ms. Erica Sherlock, explained, “The only way for them to truly get a glimpse of understanding is for them to live it in some way.”
“You can learn about this stuff and memorize facts, ” commented 8th Grader Maxwell Montes, “But when you actually take time to think about it, it changes how you think about it and really changes your emotions toward it.”
Teachers stayed in character as commanders and generals. Different wartime stations provided a more comprehensive level of involvement for students.
Students, as soldiers, raised a Sibley tent, the main shelter for Confederate soldiers. They learned to stabilize injuries and put a splint on an arm or leg fracture and how to build and use a homemade battlefield stretcher.
Students practiced packing gear that a soldier would carry: a canteen, cooking supplies, spare clothes and often, a Bible.
They even learned how to make hard tack, a staple of a Civil War soldier’s diet. Lastly, they wrote letters to loved ones.
Ms. Sherlock added, “It’s really big in our classroom, developing that empathy, and understanding the Aristotle quote, ‘Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.'”
Beyond the battles, dates and places, the stuff you memorize, these students are learning about the true bravery and sacrifice of soldiers. It’s an experience that lends perspective.
Kellen Vermeys, also an 8th grader, said, “It teaches empathy and what soldiers were treated like and what they had to do, and it was serious.”
The lesson and experience of the reenactment were deemed a success by students and their teachers, “They’re engaged, they’re learning,” noticed Ms. Sherlock, “And, I think they respect what we’re doing. I think they understand why we’re doing this.”