In this article, Harper B. Keenan investigates the treatment of violence in elementary history education through a case study of a fourth-grade unit on the colonial history of California featuring “the mission project,” a long-standing tradition in California’s elementary schools that has students construct a miniature model of a Spanish colonial mission. Grounded in broader social and historical contexts, the study explores how the use of model making invites children to engage with colonial history and what the assignment reveals about how adults teach children about the violent past. Keenan argues that the mission project perpetuates a societal pattern of “ritual avoidance.”

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