September 20

Blog #90 – What did you read this summer?

I’m huge on reading.  I’m always working my way through a novel or non-fiction book of some kind.  This summer I read 22 books, a little on the low side for me, but this was partially because the first month was taken up with five books I had to read for two of my Masters’ classes (one on great American texts and another one on the history of American women).

Here are a few books I read this summer:

  1. Days of Rage by Bryan Burroughs – this is a fascinating look at the revolutionary underground movement that staged hundreds if not thousands of bombings and dozens of bank robberies to support their revolutionary movement from 1970- 1984.  This non-fiction book collects the stories of the Weathermen, Black Liberation Army (even more radical than the Black Panthers), the Symbionese Liberation Army, FALN (Puerto Rico’s independence movement), and other groups that planted bombs in the Capitol, the Pentagon, and in buildings all across the nation.  What kinda shocked me in the present context we are living in with terrorism, and the seemingly passive attitudes towards these deluded radicals.  Bombings and bomb threats were so common place that it didn’t seem to phase most Americans that this was going on (I compare it to the random mass shootings that occur so frequently in American society in the past few years).  These bombers thought that they could begin a revolution in the United States and overthrow the current government for a socialist / Communist one and that the majority of Americans would follow their lead.  These radicals weren’t hippies by any stretch of the imagination; they were, for the most part, white, middle-class college students who were fired up by the Civil Rights and anti-war movements and had hoped to make a change.
  2. Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – this is being made into a movie coming out this fall, and it’s an intense thriller and whodunnit. I bought the book after I saw the trailer for the movie, and to me, this book reminds me of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  The main character, Rachel, in this book is an alcoholic divorcee who is struggling with how her life has fallen apart after her divorce and because of her drinking.  During her daily commute on a train, the train slows down on this one part and next to it she sees this lovely couple who are sitting on their back porch enjoying breakfast or an after-work cocktail.  Rachel imagines a fantasy life for them, and it all shatters when the woman in the house goes missing and her husband is the main suspect.  Rachel thinks that she might have info that helps the investigation and goes to the police.  The book is told from shifting viewpoints and is very riveting.  Did not see the ending coming.  https://youtu.be/KkoEE1i0CX8  Image result for girl on the train book
  3. Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance – JD had grown up as an upwardly mobile hillbilly family in Ohio, out from Kentucky, but the past is hard to shake. Demons like parental conflict, addiction, bad decisions, and abuse follow him and his sister.  His mother goes from boyfriend to boyfriend and addiction and rehab all over again.  I identified too well with JD, having had an alcoholic father. I also realize how lucky I was that my mother never tried to replace my father by remarrying, though that must have been extremely difficult for her. JD still deals with his mom on heroin whereas my father had been sober for twenty plus years but emotionally unavailable. Good book.

What I would like you to do is share something of what you read this summer (or extend it into last year or the upcoming school year if you were too busy doing APUSH work this summer).  Tell me in your own words what you read, the author, a summary of the book, and whether or not you’d recommend it and why.

Due Thursday, 9/29 by class.  250 words minimum.

September 4

Blog #89 – Columbus Day – keep it or pitch it?

Christopher Columbus is credited with having discovered the New World in 1492, not necessarily America.  How people interpret this fact is the subject of intense historical and cultural debate across the world.  The day honoring the discovery, October 12, is a national holiday, but for some historians and cultures, this day is marked as one when Spanish imperialism and genocide of the Native Americans began.

Those who want to discredit Columbus Day usually start with the wave of violence, slavery and genocide of the Native Americans that began after his “discovery.”  On the island of Hispanola (Haiti / Dominican Republic), the sailors left there after his first voyage were tasked with finding gold and silver and soon tried to put to work the natives of the island.  In subsequent voyages, he searched Central and South America for gold, and the communicable diseases like smallpox and measles that the Europeans had would also wipe out – intentionally or not – the Native populations.  Conquistadors Hernan Cortes and Francisco Pizarro exploited divisions among the ruling tribes, Aztecs and Incas respectively, to conquer vast empires.  It’s estimated that something like 90% of the 100 million Native Americans who lived in the New World were wiped out by disease, war, and famine brought on by discovery.  Critics have claimed that the holiday should be renamed “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” to honor all the Native Americans past and present.

Here’s John Oliver’s take on Columbus Day:

But was this all Columbus’ fault?  His defenders say, of course not.  Diseases act in random ways and are influenced by many things including stress, food (or lack thereof), poverty and other cultural or economic factors.  Discovery could have brought some of these conditions on, but they weren’t necessarily the primary cause.  Columbus is also given credit for having been a visionary, having convinced the Spanish monarchs to provide him with three ships to sail the Atlantic in search of a newer, quicker route to Asia around the earth.  In fact, Columbus failed in his attempt to find that quicker trade route to Asia.  It would be Magellan who would circumnavigate the globe.  And, Columbus is being blamed for what came in his wake – the Spanish conquistadors, the destruction of Native peoples, and even the African slave trade since that was linked with the opening up of the New World.  Too much, much too much indeed, to put on one man’s shoulders.  Here’s an article in support of keeping Columbus Day: http://www.fordhamobserver.com/columbus-day-or-indigenous-peoples-day-keep-columbus/

Another way of looking at this is that when we celebrate Columbus Day, we celebrate America.  Should we acknowledge both the good and the bad that come with America / Columbus?  Or is it more patriotic to revel in America in a “Team America” way with unquestioning loyalty?

250 words minimum response.  Due 9/14 by class.

Sources:

Bigelow, Bill. “Zinn Education Project.” Zinn Education Project. N.p., 2003. Web. 19 Aug. 2012. <http://zinnedproject.org/posts/1497>.

Horwitz, Tony. A Voyage Long and Strange: On the Trail of Vikings, Conquistadors, Lost Colonists, and Other Adventurers in Early America. New York: Picador USA, 2009. Print.

Madaras, Larry, and James M. SoRelle. “New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans, and the Remaking of Early America.” 1997. Taking Sides. 13th ed. Vol. 1. Dubuque, IA: McGraw Hill Higher Education, 2009. 25+. Print.

Madaras, Larry, and James M. SoRelle. “Virgin Soils Revisited.” 2003. Taking Sides. 13th ed. Vol. 1. Dubuque, IA: McGraw Hill Higher Education, 2009. 33-40. Print

June 10

Blog #88 – Final Reflection

This blog is part of your final exam (20%), so please take some time and think about your answers.

400 words minimum for your total response.  Please number your answers in the comment section.

1. A lot of our time this year has been spent reading, writing, studying, watching videos, reflecting, and talking about American history.  Discuss what your favorite learning style was this year and why it was effective for you.  Also, explain which was your least favorite way to learn and explain why it doesn’t work for you.

2. We studied a lot of stuff this year – from the Pilgrims to the Revolution to Andrew Jackson (soon to be leaving the $20) to Abe Lincoln to Alice Paul to the Yippies to the Iraq War and beyond.  What did you wish we had spent more time on than we did this year and why?

3. Yep, we studied a whole lot of stuff this year, but I bet you wish there were some units that were shorter or didn’t go as in depth.  What did you wish we had studied less of and explain why (keep in mind that if the info didn’t make it onto the test doesn’t mean it won’t be there next year)?

4. What were your strengths and weaknesses as a student?  Explain with some specific examples.

5. People talk a lot about takeaways – a summary of an experience, distilled down to one or two sentences.  What is your takeaway from APUSH (or in other words, what did you truly learn about American history)?

 

I will truly miss you guys and gals.  I think a lot of what has made me enjoy this year is seeing you grow as a person and as a student.  I’ve had the privilege of watching you become history nerds along with me this year (or not hate history as much, I hope!).  We’ve been able to geek out about Hamilton, the Era of Good Feelings, the Cold War, and many other things.  I hope that you had more fun learning in APUSH than I did teaching, because I loved working with all of you.  I also hope that you get great news about your APUSH exam on July 5 (and the SAT subject area exam if you took that too).

 

Due before your final exam class (1st and 2nd hour – Wed., 4th Hour  – Thurs., 5th Hour – Fri). 

June 3

Blog 87- Obama + Hiroshima = Apology?

“I will never apologize for the United States – I don’t care what the facts are.”
George H.W. Bush

President Obama went to Hiroshima recently and some people were clamoring for an apology to the city or the Japanese people for the dropping of the atomic bomb(s) in August 1945. An individual quoted in the New York Times was quoted as saying that “an apology by the president ‘would set the tone of reconciliation that all nations can respond to.'”

In the same article, another person said that Obama could “lament the damage caused by the atomic bombs without apologizing for their use.” A third person said that the president shouldn’t apologize for the bombs because the bombs “saved lives by avoiding a [total war] military invasion of Japan.”

A fourth opinion suggested that Obama use his speech to get the Japanese to confront their troubled legacy from World War 2 and their atrocities in Korea and China. A fifth person suggested that since Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 for advocating the reduction of nuclear weapons, he should announce his veto of a previously approved plan to spend $1 trillion on improving our nuclear arsenal.

When Obama gave his speech at Hiroshima, he said about the victims:

“Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and what we might become… How often does material advancement or social innovation blind us to the [truth that science allows us to bend nature to our will]? How easily we learn to justify violence in the name of some higher cause… Technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us. The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of an atom requires a moral revolution as well… Mere words cannot give voice to such suffering [as at Hiroshima]. But we have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.”

Please read the whole speech here:  Click here. 

Some things to think about:
– Does America have a moral obligation to lead the way with nuclear weapons since we were the only country to use them on a population?
– Would an apology open up the door to Japan asking for reparations for the bombing?
– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized for his country’s treatment of Native Canadians in the past. An apology “doesn’t cost anything… Has no effect on policy. It was just the nice thing to do.”
– America has apologized to Japanese Americans for their internment, to Rwanda for not getting involved in their genocide. But there are many, many things that America (the president, Congress) has NOT apologized for.
– Americans have been worshipping our war heroes, but the nuclear bombs makes it seem like they might have done something wrong.
– Japan hasn’t apologized for Pearl Harbor, but are the two acts comparable?
– It seems that liberals want to be transparent, self-critical, and ask “are we living up to our values?” Conservatives stress national strength and unity, they want to instill pride, and remember the great things that we have done as a country.

My questions:
1. Read over Obama’s speech. Do you think he apologized for the atomic bombings? Why or why not?
2. Using the “things to think about” section, which of these comments resonates with you the most? Explain.
3. Which of the five opinions from the New York Times article fits best with your own views on this issue? Why?

300 words minimum. Due by Thursday, June 9 by class.

May 27

Hurricane Katrina – When the Levees Broke

We started watching around 8:15 on Thursday after the quiz. It ends on Friday w/ the arrival of General Honore in New Orleans at 1:46:00. There will also be a discussion w/ the article, “Does George W. Bush Care about Black People?” by Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, and a look at some statistics and quotes on poverty and its relationship to the hurricane.

Also, here is No End in Sight. We watched the whole thing on Tuesday / Wednesday.

Inside Job, the documentary on the financial meltdown in 2008. We’ll watch the whole thing Tuesday / Wednesday, June 7/8.

May 23

Blog #86 – Oral History of 9/11/01

Subject: The 9/11/01 terrorist attacks and the days afterwards.

Suggested equipment: paper and pen/cil for notes; maybe a phone to record the interview.

Procedure:

  1. Get permission to take notes / record interview.
  2. You can use the questions below or add more / different questions – try to make questions that elicit more than a “yes” or “no” answer. You can always ask follow-up questions for clarification, explanation.
  3. Keep eye contact, nod and smile at appropriate times.
  4. Thank them for their time after you’re done. Also, ask them if they’d like a written transcript of the interview. Provide them w/ one if they say yes.  (For this assignment, you can direct them to the blog website: grovesapush.edublogs.org).

 

Potential questions

  1. What is your name? How old were you on 9/11?
  2. What is your first memory of when you first heard about the attacks? What kind of conclusions did you come to about the planes crashing into the buildings (did you at first think it was an accident or was it something worse)? Why?
  3. Where were you when the attacks happened? What were other peoples’ reactions to the attacks?
  4. Have you ever been to New York City or Washington D.C.? If so, how did that affect your reactions to the attacks?  If not, how did the attacks alter / change your views of the cities and their inhabitants?
  5. Did you know anyone in the cities? If so, did you try to contact them to see if they were o.k.?  What was the conversation like?
  6. If you were stranded in another city after 9/11, how did you cope with being away from family?
  7. What were other peoples’ reactions like in the days after the attacks?
  8. Could you describe your most vivid memory of that day, 9/11?
  9. How did life change for you in the immediate aftermath of the attacks?
  10. What do you remember of the media coverage of the attacks?
  11. What did you think of President Bush’s address later that night? (Show them the transcript on the back)
  12. How did life change for you and your family in the weeks and months after 9/11?
  13. Now that it’s been almost 15 years since the attack, how do you think America has changed since that day? Why?

Your job:

Share a minimum of five questions and answers on Blog #86 (300 words minimum) and include your personal reaction to the interview and the shared memories of 9/11/01 (100 minimum).  If you interview more than one person for this blog, please indicate the persons’ names.  Use the Memorial Day holiday to talk with family and friends – they should be old enough to have been in school or work when the event occurred.

Blog due by Tuesday, May 31st by class.

 

Congress finally takes care of 9/11/01 first responders: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/congress-sept-11-responders_us_566effdbe4b0e292150e9994