Book Trailer The Noble Train

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Wild West Is Vanishing From the Classroom

I gave a speech the other day on Forging A President How the Wild West Created Teddy Roosevelt at a school and I asked the students what they knew about the Wild West.  This was a middle school of eighth graders and they stared at me blankly. So I changed it a little. What do you know about the West? Blank stares. Then it occurred to me that my knowledge of the West had come down to me through movies and legend. No one sat me down and told me about the West. So for these eighth graders, the Wild West does not exist. Not even in legend.

It is a part of our history yet it is not taught the same way World War II or World War I is taught. The Wild West really only existed a very short time. From 1865 to 1890. Frederick Remington declared the West closed ten years before the beginning of the Twentieth Century and after the short rein of Billy the Kid and the James Brothers, Geronimo, Custer, it all came to an abrupt end. The car would take care of any remnants of the great plains horse culture.

And the Wild West was given to me and others through movies and television. But Westerns pretty much disappeared from the big screen in the seventies and John Wayne and company hung up their spurs. So kids today will not know about the West. They will not have that cultural marker. So after I asked the fourteen year olds about the West and I realized they did not know anything about it,  I put my book down and pulled up my chair, and said...

Let me tell you about a place called the Wild West.

Forging a President How the Wild West Created Teddy Roosevelt

Books by William Hazelgrove