Summary: This week’s reading talked about what is wrong with the typical teaching of the Vietnam War. The teaching tends to be shallow and is not contextualized. The history of the event is not fully covered. “Things Erupted” is not explaining how a war began but instead you should be specific. There needs to be a large focus on cause and effect rather than framing large ideas around emotions or vague concepts that don’t properly explain or teach what actually occurred and why these choices lead to the Vietnam War. There was an activity that allowed role playing among students. It plays out a government meeting with President Truman where groups of students represent different interests related to Vietnam. they try to persuade Truman (the teacher) to agree with them. Truman facilitates the debates and creates interaction among different groups.
Social Justice Aspect: US chose to back larger white power instead of supporting independence of the people.
Connections to Class Readings: Bell and Griffith discuss how history being taught from the white American perspective covers all aspects of the lesson but by using the role playing exercise, the kids are introduced to different perspectives preventing the destructive type of bias discussed by Bell and Griffith.
Highlights of our discussion: We believe that activities that force kids to role play forces them to see and evaluate situations from perspectives they hadn’t previously considered. In the activity, it was also beneficial that the meeting that we simulate in the activity never took place and we can use this as a jumping off point for discussion as to why it didn’t and why it should have occurred and if it had, what affect would it have had on history. Its important for the kids to remember that history is not a pre-written, inevitable narrative but instead it is an accumulation of choices and individual decisions. Identifying the root causes of injustice and war are the key to ending these injustices and conflicts.
Question to practicing educator: When you as a teacher use role playing activities in your classroom, do they usually play out as you intended? How do you access their understanding and performance?