Bringing the Learning Outside
From the age of the American Empire, through the class struggle, and up to the war on terror, this class will begin where last year’s Human Nature class left off supported by A Young People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn, as a general outline of American History. Zinn will give our students the progressive and insightful perspective of history that is typically not found in traditional textbooks. We will use each chapter in the book to study where we have come from, where we are and where we are going as a culture and as a nation. Howard Zinn’s book will be supplemented in our class with outdoor lessons, culture study, global comparisons, related literature and writing assignments.
The students will:
Up to Project Weeks, we have covered four chapters of A Young People’s History of the United States and will begin with World War II after winter break. Using role plays, videos, art, outside readings, research assignments, games, and a November trip to the Tenement Museum in New York City, we have broken down such complex themes as socialism, capitalism, war, immigration and international relations.
Major projects have included independent research on a ‘muckraker,’ which could be modern or historical, a simulation where students ‘worked’ for wages in the early 20th century American industrial context, and the creation of an original country, which was then used to study the concepts of trade and diplomacy, leading to official treaties being developed and signed in a simulation. Students also developed their own theory on how the USS Maine sank in the late 19th century based on independent research.
Discussions have covered everything from workers’ rights and capitalism to the causes of World War I and other major historical events. Students created their own original piece of propaganda to promote a cause of their choosing after studying real propaganda from World War I. They also engaged in an outdoor simulation of the 1929 stock market crash.
Upon returning to school after the holiday break, students began with the study of WWII, where the focus was more on the United States’s war with Japan than the typical focus on the Nazis. Students discussed the momentous and fateful decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan.
Moving on to the Cold War, students completed a major research project. They chose an individual (Truman, Stalin, etc.) involved in the Cold War, wrote a paper, or otherwise explained his significance in detail, and produced a visual representation to be hung up on the wall from left to right depending on the individual’s political ideology, from Communism to Fascism.
Then, students read about the Civil Rights Movement and saw illustrations of the sit-ins and other examples of nonviolent action in John Lewis’s March. Students then applied MLK’s principles of nonviolence to historical examples and simulated what it would be like to be a nonviolent protester.
Finally, students learned the significance of the Vietnam War, which led to an outpouring of anti-war sentiment and suspicion of government. They listened to famous protest songs and simulated the 1969 release of the Pentagon Papers, which exposed the truth about the war.
*Also see blog entries
A Young People’s History of the United States, Vol. 1 by Howard Zinn
A Young People’s History of the United States, Vol. 2 by Howard Zinn
Trade and Value Lesson
Oliver Stone Documentary
World War II Summary Video
Howard Zinn Interview
Civil Rights Timeline
Teaching the “n-word”
TEACHER: Lucas Kelly
Voyagers’ Community School
215 Broad Street
Eatontown, NJ 07724
Proud to be MSA Accredited