Saturday, March 06, 2004

Education on the U.S. Constitution.

Education on the U.S. Constitution. Many American students know nothing about the U.S. Constitution. This essay endeavors to do somethign about it.

From the site:

The United States of America, a comparatively young country, has the world's oldest written constitution. In 1787, this Constitution was a striking innovation, a breakthrough in the establishment of republican self-government. Since 1787, this Constitution has been the preeminent symbol of American nationhood and a practical instrument of free government (popular government limited by law to protect the liberty and security of individuals). Furthermore, this Constitution has had an enormous influence on governments around the world. According to Albert Blaustein, a specialist in the comparative study of constitutions, "The United States Constitution is this nations's most important export" (1984, p. 14).

The bicentennial of the Consitution provides a special opportunity for renewal and improvement of education on basic values and principles of American constitutional government, which are essential elements of national unity and cohesion in a pluralistic society. These ideas are relevant and valuable to all Americans, regardless of their social differences, and must be understood and used by all who would exercise fully their rights and responsibilities of citizenship. What is the status of education on the Constitution in American secondary schools? This ERIC digest examines (1) treatment of the Constitution in the curriculum of secondary schools, (2) public opinion and knowledge about the Constitution, and (3) guidelines for improvement of education on the Constitution.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Using Primary Sources on the Internet To Teach and Learn History.

Using Primary Sources on the Internet To Teach and Learn History. Primary sources are a good way to teach history. This paper gives some ideas for how to use the Internet to do this.

From the site:

The Internet enables teachers to enhance the teaching and learning of history through quick and extensive access to primary sources. This Digest discusses: (1) types and uses of primary sources, (2) using the Internet to obtain primary sources, and (3) exemplary World Wide Web sites providing primary sources.


Primary sources are the building blocks of history. These traces of the human past include ideals, customs, institutions, languages, literature, material products, and the physical remains of various people (Craver 1999, 8).

Primary sources are not limited to printed documents such as letters, newspapers, diaries, and poems. Artifacts (art, pottery, articles of clothing, tools, and food), places (ecosystems, dwellings, and other buildings and structures), sounds (music, stories, and folklore), and images (paintings, photographs, videos/movies) can also be considered primary sources.

A commonly overlooked type of primary source is historic places, the sites of significant events, which communicate the past to students in numerous ways. Historic places "speak through relationships to their settings, their plan and design, their building materials, their atmosphere and ambience, their furniture, and other objects they contain" (Harper 1997, 1).

Primary sources are keys to reconstructing and interpreting the past. Teachers and students alike might consider this adage: learning is not received; it is achieved. Introducing and using primary sources in the history classroom will almost certainly lead to active learning and development of critical thinking, reasoning, and problem solving (Craver 1999, 10-12). As students work with primary sources, they have the opportunity to do more than just absorb information; they can also analyze, evaluate, recognize bias and contradiction, and weigh the significance of evidence presented by the source (Percoco 1998).

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter This is a biography of American President Jimmy Carter.

From the site:

James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. (born October 1 , 1924 ) was the 39th ( 1977 - 1981 ) President of the United States . Since leaving office, he is active in international public policy and conflict resolution. He is also an author and winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize.

Carter was born in the town of Plains , Georgia , the first president born in a hospital. He grew up in nearby Archery . He attended Georgia Southwestern College and the Georgia Institute of Technology , and received a B.S. degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1946 , the same year he married Rosalynn Smith. He served on submarines in the Atlantic and Pacific fleets, and was later selected by Admiral Hyman Rickover for the U.S. Navy's nuclear submarine program. Upon the death of his father in 1953 , he resigned from the Navy and became a peanut farmer in Plains.

Early political career

In the 1960s he served two terms in the Georgia State Senate.

In his 1970 campaign Carter was elected governor on a pro- George Wallace platform. Carter's campaign aides handed out thousands of photographs of his opponent, the liberal former Gov. Carl Sanders , showing his opponent associating with black basketball players. On the stump, Carter pledged to reappoint an avowed segregationist to the state Board of Regents. He promised as his first act to invite former Alabama Gov. George Wallace into the state to speak. Old-line segregationists across the state endorsed Carter for governor.

But following his election, Carter said in speeches that the time of racial segregation was over, and that racial discrimination had no place in the future of the state. He was the first white southern politician to say this in public (such sentiments would have signaled the end of the political career of white politicians in the region less than 15 years earlier), so his victory attracted some attention as a sign of changing times. Carter served as governor of the state of Georgia from 1971 to 1975 but failed in his re-election bid, having alienated both the voters and the state legislature through what has been described as an imperial style of governing.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Using Primary Sources in the Primary Grades.

Using Primary Sources in the Primary Grades. This good essay shows how primamry source material can be used successfully in primary grades.

From the site:

What do a stamped Christmas postcard dated 1910, a Confederate one hundred dollar bill, soda pop bottles from Egypt, ice tongs, a rug beater, and a woven prayer rug from the Middle East with a picture of the Kaaba at Mecca all have in common? These and many other artifacts can become primary sources, the very real "stuff" of the social studies that can so effectively engage the young learner in active learning. The use of primary sources in the classroom is a way for students to develop the intellectual curiosity that leads to further research and increased awareness of the world around them.


The definition of "primary sources" varies. Danzer and Newman (1996, 22) examine this conceptual problem by discussing several definitions recognized by historians. They tend to agree with Henry Johnson's expansive concept that "primary sources include all the traces left by the human past -- present ideals, present social customs and institutions, language, literature, material products of human industry, physical man himself, and the physical remains of men."

Johnson's broad definition of primary sources leads to great flexibility for classroom use, especially for beginning readers of the primary grades. The HISTORY-SOCIAL SCIENCE FRAMEWORK FOR CALIFORNIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS, KINDERGARTEN THROUGH GRADE TWELVE (1997, 147) explains that "documents make up most, but not all, of the primary source materials used by historians." Historians may use documents but teachers of early grades will frequently use realia or "ephemera" (Danzer and Newman 1996, 24) of the material culture.

Danzer and Newman (1991, 24) identify types of primary sources, including (1) print documents; (2) electronic media; (3) arts -- graphic and fine; (4) folklore, folkways, and mythology; and (5) physical environment and material culture (built environment and artifacts). These five categories may aid teachers in identifying primary sources. Danzer and Newman, however, caution teachers to recognize that some primary sources materials may fit into more than one of the categories.