March 22, 2009

Needing a break, even for a hardened historian

During spring break, I starting reading some books on the Spanish Civil War, and I'm finding it tough slogging: it's not inherently hard reading, but it's hard to read for long about a story that ends badly, where thousands of people lost their lives and a country turned into a dictatorship that lasted for decades. I'm finding myself putting down a book after about 20 minutes of reading and needing to find something much more upbeat about life.

This is a substantial change from when I was a college student or grad student and read about all sorts of tragedies without its affecting me in the same way. After my first semester of exams, I read The Painted Bird... as a break from studying before my plane flight home. So either I was a hardboiled adolescent/young adult who has softened, or having children has changed how I react (and, yes, I teared up a bit when reading several Patricia Polacco books to my children), or the current economic crisis and the genocides of the past 20 years have been making such tragedies seem much closer. 

That, and maybe those of us who study the history of education have it easy, because even when schools have educated children worse than we'd like, the children have still been alive.

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Tags: genocide, Spanish Civil War
Posted in The academic life on March 22, 2009 5:09 PM |