Minnesota State Standards: Students in high school (grades 9-12) pursue in-depth study of social studies content that equips them with the knowledge and skills required for success in postsecondary education (i.e., freshman-level courses), the skilled workplace and civic life. The amount of content in the standards corresponds to the graduation credit requirements identified in state statutes:
Three and one-half (3.5) credits of social studies encompassing at least United States history, geography, government and citizenship, world history, and economics sufficient to satisfy all of the academic standards in social studies. (Minn. Stat. § 120B.024, Subd. 1(5)).
A one-half credit of economics taught in a school’s agriculture education or business department may fulfill a one-half credit in social studies…if the credit is sufficient to satisfy all of the academic standards in economics. (Minn. Stat. § 120B.024 Subd. 2(a)).
Approximately one year (or two semesters) of content is provided for a survey of United States history, a year for a survey of world history, and a half-year (or one semester) each for geography, government and citizenship, and economics. Although the standards in this document are organized by discipline, they may be delivered in an interdisciplinary context.
Bonny and Read's story fits well with the goal of preparing high-school students for postsecondary education. The story encourages critical thinking about the role and representation of women and the LGBT community in the past, deals with themes of economy and geography, and engages with a primary historical text that is dubious in nature and inherently necessitates a critical lens. Students learning about Bonny and Read will learn facts about pirates and the British colonial period, but they will also be asked to constantly keep in mind the confounding influences of author bias, historical context, and their own bias as modern readers of a historical text. The story also presents a perhaps lesser-known part of history, and encourages students to think about certain narratives and groups that have been erased from history or are generally overlooked in mainstream textbooks. It promotes dynamic engagement with the past while foregrounding modern social and political issues, and will push students to think deeply about the sources and methods we use to study the past.
Questions to consider:
- Do you think Charles Johnson was sensationalizing the story when he claimed Read and Bonny were lovers?
- What do you make of the love triange between Anne Bonny, Mary Read, and Jack Rackham? Is it realistic, or do you think Captain Charles added some narrative drama to this part of the story?
- In the story of Mary Read and Anne Bonny's last stand, women are depicted as tougher and more courageous than men. Why do you think the story is told in this way? Do you think there's truth to this part of the story?
- Do some research. Find other accounts of Read and Bonny's lives and compare them to Charles Johnson's. What are some key differences?
- Find arguments claiming that the two were not lovers. How do historians argue this point?
- Debate. Do you think the story of Mary Read and Anne Bonny is true? Pick a side and support your argument.
- Take a closer look at the images of Mary Read and Anne Bonny shown in this exhibit. Are these women depicted as more masculine or more feminine? Are they being sexualized? What are some signifiers of gender that you can see in the images? How might these images affect how the story is interpreted?