Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” performed by Bob Dylan


I couldn’t find a recording of Woody Guthrie singing the song that was as high-quality as this Bob Dylan cover, so I decided to use this instead. When you press play, listen to the song. I mean, really listen. To what the words are, to what they are saying. You can go here and read about the lyrics Guthrie penned. They certainly aren’t the lyrics I learned when I was a child.

I’ve been reading Maxine Greene’s Releasing the Imagination for our professional seminar book circle, and it reminded me that I’ve been meaning to blog about the following book I found in my dyad classroom:


and how it, in context of our Social Studies and Multicultural Education course, has inspired me to think about ways literature and art can be integrated with Social Studies, particularly to facilitate students’ inquiry into American history, culture, attitude, democracy, etc.

Greene writes, “…the arts in particular can bring to curriculum inquiry visions of perspectives and untapped possibilities,” and asks the question,

“What of curriculum as itself a search for meaning?”

So what’s the meaning students could glean from reading This Land is Your Land and learning ALL of the original Guthrie lyrics? To me, the possibilities are endless. Who did the land belong to before Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue? What happened to the land once it was colonized and whose was it then? Especially land in the south, worked and labored by black slaves and white indentured servants, what is the dilemma of saying “This land was made for you and me?” Does the land belong solely to humans? What about the natural resources we use? Do they have any claim to the land? What is the meaning of each line, the whole song? What about in context of our society’s history? Our history of hunting, expanding, developing?

This isn’t the first time Greene has inspired me and I have a feeling it won’t be the last as I continue to read her work. I’m seeing the possibilities her vision might have for my practices as a teacher, and I’m just starting to think about ways I’ll likely be forced to grapple with the higher calling of curriculum–“inquiry visions” and “a search for meaning”–and the pressure for teachers and students to meet test-based standards in an economics-obsessed world.