June 8

Race to Nowhere E.C. blog

The movie, Race to Nowhere, shows the pressure and stress children and teens go through in school these days.  Teachers are given too much homework and too many tests, and kids are literally losing sleep over it. The combination of school, sports, homework, chores, and work already takes up the majority of the week, leaving little to no time for family, friends, relaxing, and most importantly, sleep.

The movie told the story of one tragic suicide of a 13 year old stressed out girl, a situation that has happened far more than once due to school. Not only students, but teachers are unhappy with the way schools are run. One teacher shared her thoughts on how she feels that its hard for her to teach the things she thinks really matter and will help the students when the government is telling her students need to be taught. 

 The result? Kids are going crazy trying to learn all this information, and usually are just cramming it all in barely remembering any of it. Every student I spoke with that watched the film agreed with it. There is also another side viewers (mainly parents) took, saying that school should be difficult and failure is a part of life.

A story on endtherace.org describes Harvard or Walmart syndrome, where students and parents believe that success is defined as getting into Harvard, and if you don’t, you’ll have no other option but to work at Walmart for the rest of your life. 

The movie brought up a few different questions that it seems everyone has different answers to:

1. Where does this pressure come from: parents, teachers, the government, the universities or the students themselves?  Combination?

2. Are the tests and amount of homework given to students fair, or is it an overload?

3. Are standardized tests a good way to test students?

4. Sure, people are bringing up all these problems and saying everything that’s wrong and right, but what do the students think about their education? We’re already learning more than generations before us did (there’s more history, new scientific advances, new technology), but what should we be learning and how much work should we be doing?

5. So the real question: If you could design your own, realistic high school experience, what would one typical week look like?  How much homework is fair, how hard should the tests be, how much information would you be responsible for knowing, and what classes would be required to take?

 Please answer at least 3 questions. 

Thanks to Lizzie D. for writing this blog.

October 13

Blog #3 – Your reaction to video, “A Vision of Students Today”

The Groves staff watched this video back at the end of August as one of the introductory discussion topics / food for thought to get us going for the upcoming school year.  It is made by a professor at Kansas State University named Michael Wesch who studies cultural anthropology.

The premise of the video is: “what is it like being a student today?”  Dr. Wesch gets his students to answer the question in a myriad of different ways – some of their responses apply to you and some of them don’t (not being in a college / university environment with huge classrooms). 

Questions to answer:

1. What kind of picture does this video paint of today’s students (yes, college students, but one day soon, you will be one of them)? 

2. Do you think this video presents an accurate picture?   Why or why not? 

3. What do you think are the top three things that a teacher could learn from this video?  Why do you choose these three topics? 

250 words  – due Friday October 15

A link to Dr. Wesch’s talk about the anthropological origins of You Tube.


October 1

Blog #2 – Pick a topic to blog

Choose one of the following questions and answer it by Monday, October 4th. 

200 words minimum. 

1. Were the Spanish just in their attempt to Christianize the Native Americans?  Why or why not?

2. Why was there so much tension between the religious groups in America?  Why were so many of them intolerant of others?

3. What are the risks and benefits of refusing to conform with society if you diagree with its principles?  Do you think it’s worth it today?  Why or why not? 

4. How would our population be distributed differently if the Mayfower had landed in Virginia (where it was supposed to land)?  How might this have affected the American Revolution (or would there have even been one)?

5. Do you think that bad people can improve given a second chance?  Take into account the history of Georgia. 

6. Why do you think religious extremists are still present in today’s society?  In what ways do these groups compare to the Separatists / Pilgrims?puritans

7. With the New England education system, independent thinking appeared to have been discouraged.  What do you think this meant for education institutions back then?  What must it have been like to have been a student back then?

8. What were the European explorers’ reactions to the unbounded nature of the New World?

9. If Europeans hadn’t settled the Americas, how do you think the U.S. would look like today?

10. If Powhatan hadn’t intervened in the fate of Jamestown’s “starving time”, what might have happened to the colony?

11. How did a person suddenly come up with a new version of Christianity? 

12. Would people have migrated to America if King Henry VIII hadn’t broken from the Roman Catholic Church?  Why or why not?

13. Was it hypocritical for the Puritans to persecute the Quakers, especially after they were persecuted in England?

14. Were the Wampanoags and other Indian tribes justified in their reasoning for launching King Philip’s War (to stop the spread of the English onto their land) and the death and injury of several hundred English men and women?  Why or why not?  king philip

15. Why did the Europeans treat the natives so poorly when many of them were helpful and peaceful at first?

16. Do you think Father Bartoleme de Las Casas’ idea to use Africans instead of Indians as slaves in the New World was a major factor in the establishment of African slavery in America?  Why or why not?

17. How were the European explorers able to communicate with the Native Americans when they first arrived?

18. If people like John Smith hadn’t helped the settlers survive, what do you think would have happened to the new colonies?

19. What gave certain people or religion the right to pass discriminatory laws?

20. Why did the English monarch send Edmund Andros over to lead the Dominion of New England instead of appointing someone from the colonies?  What would have happened if a New Englander had been in charge?

21. Often times, it’s been said that one leader completely helped a colony to survive;  do you think that it is a fair statement to give one person sole responsibility for the success of a colony (Peter Stuyvesant, John Smith, Miles Standish)?

22. Would Americans have been as religiously tolerant today if the Quakers and Puritans actually had gotten along back in the 17th Century?  Why or why not? 

23. If you were Peter Stuyvesant, would you have given up New York without a fight?  Why or why not? 

24. Do you think the “visible saints” actually believed that they had been chosen by God or do you think that they faked it for the social acceptance and enhanced social standing?

25. How do you think American (and Virginian) history would have been different if John Rolfe hadn’t developed a better, less bitter strain of tobacco to export to Europe?

26. Which of the early American colonies would you have liked to have lived in?  Why?

27. What do you think led Roger Williams to develop his “radical” views on religion?  roger williams

28. Everyone has their own interpretation of religion, so why does that have to affect the way that they live and treat others?

29. Which person that we’ve studied so far was the most democratic?  How about the most aristocratic?  Why?

30. Why do you think the Roanoke settlement disappeared?

31. What changes do you think would have occurred in the progression of colonial society if colonists were less hostile towards Native Americans?

32. During the African slave trade, how could African leaders have so easily sold other Africans into slavery?

33. If you were to start a new colony somewhere, what kinds of principles would you build it upon and why?  Think about religion, education, government, philosophy, morals, etc.

34. How do you think a 17th Century Puritan would react to our society today?  (Think of common behaviors, style of dress, religious attitudes, freedom, technology, etc.).

35. Which of the original 13 colonies do you think best represents America today?  Why?

36. How do you think Old World Europeans viewed those people who left their country and headed out to the unknown New World?

37. Do you think Puritan women felt discriminated against when they weren’t allowed any say-so in law making or decision-making?  Or do you think they accepted their role / fate as what God had wanted?  Why?

38. Why, during the Great Awakening, did slave-owners decide to teach their slaves about Christianity, when they did not even consider them human beings deserving of natural rights (in essence, by recognizing that slaves have a soul to save from hell, it’s a recognition of their humanity – something that had been denied them)?