Why Study the American Revolution During War in Iraq?
From the Middle School Chatboard
"Uni" posted that a 5th grade student challenged a teacher with the "pointless" study of the American Revolution. This child suggested that they drop all study of the early American war and concentrate on the pros and cons of the war in Iraq. Readers posted about how they would respond to the student.
I would have asked the student how is it that s/he knows how to read, why s/he has that scar on his/her elbow, how is it that s/he has his own room...all edging toward it being in his/her history, that history is what has made us what we are today. It's silly to study the current war without understanding how we got to this point.
As for what topics to teach about this war in 5th grade, that depends on the class and their intellectual abilities. I remember my 6th grade teacher doing a unit on the hostages in Iran in the late 70's. We read the newspaper and did activities to help us understand the situation, although I don't know if much was comprehended on a higher level. Still, I found it interesting (and still remember it, so I guess it was pretty good!)
Posted by Pavlovs
Studying the history of one's country is never "pointless." This is especially true of the Revolution. Our ideals, our social structure, our "identity"--all are tied to the Revolution. And you can tell the student that our country's current stand on Iraq is influenced by our past & ideology.
As this kids come from families with diverse opinions about the current war, you could also show that the colonists weren't a solid front during the Revolution. Cities and even families were split, some wanting to stay loyal to England, some fighting for liberty.
And finally, even though a kid may not think a course is "relevant" to them now, they may well find that in the future the knowledge gained from it will come in handy. Not to mention the fact that the mere act of thinking & learned "stretches" their mental abilities.
Posted by lilylake
You might point out that the guarantees of our constitution, written to safeguard against excessive powers of the English monarchy, are one of the very reasons we are going into Iraq. Iraqis have none of the freedoms for which the American colonists fought.
Posted by History Buff
I haven't put a lesson plan together, but you could teach the American Revolution in comparison/contrast to the situation today. Spring board their interest in current events and tie it to the history that they need to know.
Posted by Stacy
In a situation as we have now, I do devote days to the current situation. Why not? School is supposed to teach children about the real world - or so I thought. School is supposed to address the needs of children - or so I thought - and this one child may not be the only one who is interested in discussing and learning about the situation in the Middle East and Iraq.
I would said, "Good idea. Why didn't I think of it myself?" Or let's finish up the Revolution and then devote some days to the Middle East.
Or if I didn't really want to do the Middle East and our involvement in it (why not?) I would have said "Isn't a war a war? Let's see how we got into the Revolution and how we won it and then we'll look at Iraq and see what's the same about that situation and what's different. The first war our country fought in will provide the foundation for us to understand our latest war."
What issues in current war would I allow for discussion in a 5th grade class? Almost any but I wouldn't allow any student to become gruesome in their descriptions of what they've heard. Nor would I allow any student to speak ill of another student's opinion.
Posted by Social Studies Teacher
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