The Tavern

Website review by
Jennifer Sitkin, Common Sense Media
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Online forum for historical debate barely scratches surface.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about topics in American history that continue to be controversial and interesting to discuss. The content covers basic information about a number of topics such as taxes, leadership, separation of church and state, gambling, the right to privacy, and the role of women. The material is presented through mini-video debates and short articles. Although the coverage of each issue on the Tavern is limited, it's part of a much larger collection of resources from the Colonial Williamsburg website and could be a good jumping-off point for kids to get interested in having thoughtful conversations.

 

 

Positive Messages

Promotes learning, sharing ideas about America's founding democratic principles.

Consumerism

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Tavern is a blog that posts articles and short video debates to encourage an exchange of ideas about the principles of America past and present. It's a small part of a much larger website, Colonial Williamsburg, that provides extensive educational materials to teach about history and citizenship. Parents may find an article or a video clip that helps them open up conversations with their kids about recurring issues such as the role of women, taxation policy, and immigration. 

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What's it about?

THE TAVERN, part of the Colonial Williamsburg website collection, is an online location for learning about and sharing ideas. Based on the discussions that took place in 18th-century taverns, The Tavern posts articles on current issues and videos on fundamental topics in American history. The articles and videos are all intended to stimulate debate and an open sharing of ideas and thoughts. Topics include taxation, immigration, freedom of speech, leadership, church and state, and the role of women. The debate videos are a few minutes each, and actors are dressed in historic costumes to capture the time period. The content is focused on how the past relates to current issues. For example, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington discuss immigration policy in the video, and viewers are guided to think about the path to citizenship today. At the end of each post, there's opportunity to comment and/or share through various social media services.

Is it any good?

This political resource will definitely help stimulate debate and discussion, but its content barely scratches the surface of each topic. The videos and blog posts produced by the Tavern do ask interesting questions about past and current events, but they don't stand alone. Parents will want to supplement with the other educational resources on the Colonial Williamsburg website or with their own background information to maximize learning. The short video conversations between historical figures are good lead-ins to get kids thinking about particular issues. For example, the Earning the Public Trust conversation between Thomas Jefferson and Martha Washington would help initiate a discussion about what we should expect from public officials. Although limited in content depth, some posts may grab the attention of kids, such as gaming in colonial times and a comparison between Tupac Shakur and Alexander Hamilton as rappers. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why citizens pay taxes and how governments should allocate resources. Can you think of a better way this can be handled?

  • Talk about leadership in government. How has it changed throughout history? Should it be improved?

  • Discuss rights and freedoms that are guaranteed in the United States. Can you find relevant videos to trigger meaningful connections between the past and the present?

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For kids who love politics

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