Confessions of a Seventh-Grade Texas History Teacher

Bobby Jackson has taught students in the Aransas County school district about the Plains Indians, the Battle of San Jacinto, and Spindletop since the state celebrated its sesquicentennial. How he does it bears no resemblance to the class I took when I was stuck in middle school.
Jackson, dressed as the historical figure Enrique Esparza, photographed in his classroom at Rockport-Fulton Middle School on May 25, 2012.
Photograph by Jeff Wilson

Of all the remote corners of Texas considered difficult to reach—the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande, in Big Bend National Park; the center-field wall at Minute Maid Park, in Houston; the butcher block at Franklin Barbecue, in Austin—the single most challenging can actually be found in every big city and rural burg in the state: the mind of a seventh grader. It’s a destination with no clear path, the ground around it littered with hormonal land mines, the terrain ever shifting as growth spurts are endured or, even worse, anxiously awaited. In one of God’s great dirty tricks, an awareness of peer pressure presents itself during roughly the same week as zits. Soon come a new voice, a new shape, a new smell. Nothing about it is easy, not for the seventh graders and certainly

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