Students learn historical significance of inauguration

Social studies teachers across Lincoln Public Schools faced the challenge of discussing last week’s Presidential inauguration on Jan. 21, the day after the historical event and during an era of divisive politics. It’s a challenge that teachers welcomed.

“I don’t want to talk about it because it’s Biden - I’m not here to push Biden on you,” Irving Middle School teacher Dusy Bayne told his 8th-grade American history class. “What I think is important is that, as historians, we can look at this through a historical lens, which I think is a really important skill.”

Bayne and his class not only watched President Biden’s speech, they watched an interview with Michael Beschloss, an American historian who specializes in the United States presidency. He talked about past inaugural speeches by presidents such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. 

Throughout the class, students were asked to answer questions such as “How did Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address in 1865 meet the challenges of the time?” and “Why was the date of inauguration changed after 1933?” and “What challenges faced Franklin Roosevelt in 1933. How did he use his inaugural speech to address these challenges?”

Teachers play a vital role in helping students think critically about questions such as these, said LPS K-12 Social Studies Curriculum Specialist Jaci Kellison. 

“What social studies teachers are great at doing is putting things into historical context and to show students how our democracy has changed over time and also how it has stayed the same,” she said.

At Lincoln North Star High School, teacher Falla Halsey devoted her seventh period Government and Politics class to discussing the inauguration. They talked a lot about the historical significance of inauguration and its symbolism. They watched a PBS recap of the event and watched portions of previous inaugural speeches, as well.

“Inauguration Day is one of my favorite days as an educator,” Halsey said. “It signifies hope and the promise of democracy.”

Published: January 25, 2021, Updated: January 25, 2021

North Star teacher Falla Halsey