Friday, October 8, 2010

Flashback Friday # 108

The Slave Auction

Hello you wonderful folks, glad to have you back for another edition of Flashback Friday. (At least I hope someone is reading this, otherwise I'm talking to myself, and you know where that leads, don't you? I sure do.)

Today's post is about my 8th grade American history class. I've discussed "Mr. Bowser" in previous posts. He was one of the most unusual teachers that I had. He Incorporated game shows and role playing in the history class so learning was fun. History is still one of my favorite subjects.

This post is about a role playing session about pre-Civil War slavery.This particular class took longer than normal, as it was done every year. Our other teachers got a break from us since this class lasted most of the day.

In our class of 30 kids, we each were given a role to play. 14 kids (seven boys & seven girls) were couples looking for a slave to purchase at the local slave auction. Each of the couples had a scenario, monetary limits, and a specific type of slave to attempt to purchase. I was a buyer looking for a slave to help move my wife & me to Missouri. Others needed workers for farming or domestic help.

Five boys were the slaves. Five slaves, seven buyers. Someone would go home empty handed. There was an auctioneer, and his helpers. There were also five abolitionist present to protest. Bart (see Flashback Friday #107) was one of the abolitionist. Once everyone was prepped,the auction began.

As the auctioneer began, each slave was lead to a platform to be displayed. As the auctioneer began, the abolitionist would yell and protest. As each slave was sold, the abolitionist would jeer & catcall. Finally the auctioneer had enough. He ordered his men to throw out the abolitionists.

As his men were "escorting" the abolitionists out, the back door to the classroom was flung open and the slaves made a break for it. "The slaves are escaping" cried the auctioneer. Mr. Bowser said there was a reward for anyone who captured a slave. He had discussed with those playing slaves that they had to stay on the school property, and anyone staying hid for an hour, escaped to freedom.

The race was on. One was found right away hiding under one of the teacher's cars. Another was caught behind a tree at the border of the property. One by one, the slaves were brought back in. There was still one missing.

Down the corridor where my locker used to be was a utility access closet that all the water lines to the bathrooms ran. This was off limits to the student population, but would a slave think to hide there? I ventured in with a couple of fellow hunters. There was no light (at least we couldn't find a switch. Breaker box maybe?) so we had to venture in by feel. I was in the lead. Midway back, my hand brushed over something clammy & wet. Ew! I didn't know what it was, but I didn't care to stay in there much longer. We abandoned our search .

While the hour ticked by, the slaves that hadn't been sold yet were put back on the auction block. Since the missing slave had already been purchased, there were now seven bidders for four slaves. I was unable to find any help to move to Missouri with the funds that I had.

At the end of the hour, the one slave still hadn't been found. An announcement was made over the P.A. that the slave had attained freedom. If he could hear the announcement, come back to the room. A few minutes later, he walked back in. He said he had been hiding in the utility access closet, and someone had actually put their hand on his head. He had been running, and was sweaty. His sweaty, wet hair was what I had felt in the dark.

Mr. Bowser had a wrap up secession at the end of the class. We learned that the purchase of fellow human beings like they were livestock was wrong. We also learned that when someone has strong opinions about a matter, it is difficult to get them to see different. We also learned that escaping slaves could and would take drastic measures not to be recaptured.

I told my wife that I think that Mr. Bowser not only influenced my love of history, but also influenced my teaching style. In my Sunday School class, we role play quite a bit (the kids love it). I don't have those kids every day, like he had us, but if I can influence just one of them to dig a little deeper into The Word, or pique interest in a Bible story, it's well worth the dressing up and being silly.

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