Confronting History in the Heartland
Chapter 1. “Life Is an Experiment”
← 18 | 19 →·1·
“LIFE IS AN EXPERIMENT”
Bill Munn moved to Marion in 1969 and was quickly confronted by the town’s troubled history. Cynthia Carr recounts the story in her book on the lynching and its repercussions: “As [Munn] began teaching seventh grade in North Marion, he asked his all-white class to tell him something about the town, and one student immediately announced: ‘We hung the niggers.’ Munn also recalled white people offering to show him the lynching picture, saying, ‘I’ve got it in the trunk of my car’” (2006, p. 377). These startling exchanges were not the point of origin for Munn’s social concern—his history of activism dates back much further—but they did mark his first encounter with the issues of local injustice that would preoccupy him for decades to come.
Certain dispositions toward teaching have been present in Munn’s work since the beginning, including an affinity for self-directed student projects and an experimental attitude toward his own teaching and learning. One afternoon in 2011, midway through our research project, I arrived for class, and Munn directed me to a favorite quotation written on the classroom whiteboard: “Life is an experiment”—Emerson, by way of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. As Munn commented, that one brief line explained much of his work on the CHP. His experiments, I discovered, have yielded sustained learning, allowing Munn to refine community-based class projects, build knowledge of local narratives ← 19 | 20 →in which his students might...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.