Category Archives: civics

Election Analysis – Living Room Candidate

Megan Nieman is a high school teacher in McPherson, Kansas and a member of the Kansas Council for the Social Studies executive board.


I realize that we are several months past the 2016 election but the great thing about teaching social studies is there are an abundance of political elections that we can discuss throughout the year! I learned about the Museum of Moving Image site, Living Room Candidate, about seven years ago. I’ve used it here and there when talking about presidential elections and campaigns but as I recently began teaching a modern American History course, the site has become an excellent supplement to my curriculum.

It has every presidential campaign advertisement starting from 1952 to present. It is interesting for kids to compare ads from the 1950s and 1960s with ads from the 2016 election. Living Room Candidate also provides lesson plans on the power and effect of advertising. Continue reading Election Analysis – Living Room Candidate

Black History 365

Cross-post by Glenn Wiebe from his site, History Tech.

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The beauty of studying history is that you can never learn it all. There’s always something new to discover. A fresh piece of evidence. Another interpretation. A person or event or idea that has always been there . . . just waiting to be uncovered.

Maybe it’s a small discovery that changes how you personally understand the world. This week I learned that Paul Revere was an amateur dentist. (And if you’re like me, there’s now an image in your head of Revere on a horse – “The cavities are coming! The cavities are coming!”)

Not earth-shattering. But still cool.

hiddenfigures2And then there are those people and events that are just a bit bigger and should change how we all see the world. The movie and book Hidden Figures are like that.

Seriously? How did that slip by?

African American women calculating aeronautical and astronomical math, helping push the United States into space? In the Jim Crow South? Now that’s cool. And powerful. And part of the American story. But up until the last few years, the story of people like Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson was relatively unknown and certainly not mentioned in any of the history classes I ever took.

Which brings us to February.

And Black History Month.

I’m always a bit conflicted about the idea. The concept of a month specifically set aside for the study of Black History started back in 1926 when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.” That particular week was chosen because it marked the birthday of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

In 1976, the federal government followed the lead of the Black United Students at Kent State and established the entire month as Black History Month. President Ford urged Americans, and especially teachers and schools, to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

The hope was that Black History Month would provide a very intentional time for all of us to remember together the struggles of African Americans to obtain the basic civil rights afforded to others, the challenges African Americans have faced for centuries, and the contributions of African Americans to who we are. But . . . the real hope was Continue reading Black History 365

Who’s your “most famous American?”

wineburgIf you ‘ve had a chance to spend any amount of time with me, you know what I think of historian and author Sam Wineburg.

Class?

That’s right. He’s a stud.

And I recently ran across some work he did several years ago that I think is interesting. Sam and colleague Chauncey Monte-Sano interviewed 4,000 people – half of whom were juniors and seniors in high school and the other half over the age of 45. It was a very simple survey. Wineburg asked each participant to list ten names in response to one question:

Who are the most famous Americans in history, excluding presidents and first ladies?

Feel free to post your answer below in the comments. We’ll wait.

You back?

In today’s “fragmented society,” one might expect two very different lists – one consisting of rap stars and actors and the other listing a few of the Founding Fathers, Edison, and perhaps Helen Keller. What the two researchers discovered was something very different. Continue reading Who’s your “most famous American?”