Friday, April 23, 2004

World War II in the Curriculum.

World War II in the Curriculum. This essay explores ways that teachers can instruct students about the Second World War.

From the site:

In 1991, the fiftieth anniversary of the United States' entrance into World War II was observed. This is an opportune time to reevaluate and renew the teaching of this cataclysmic event. Most people have been affected by the political, economic, and social consequences of the war. But perhaps the most important reason to rededicate ourselves to teaching about World War II is that the experience is still near enough in time to provide retrospective interest for those who lived through it and to spark intellectual curiosity among those unborn at the time.


There are many debates about what to teach in the social studies curriculum. However, there is a consensus on the need to emphasize World War II, as it is a major turning point in world history. World War II involved the largest armed forces, the longest battle lines, and the most destructive weapons of any war. It inflicted more suffering, more destruction, and more deaths.

Good history teaching emphasizes global turning points --- those events that have had the most far-reaching consequences, for the largest number of people, across the broadest areas of the Earth. Knowledge of World War II and other global turning points in history advances one's understanding of how our contemporary society developed. This knowledge, of course, is the necessary foundation for effective thought and action by our students about the important political events and public issues of their lives.

Many students, however, are failing to achieve knowledge about the causes, events, and consequences of World War II. In the 1986 National Assessment of History and Literature, most 17-year-old students said they had studied World War II, yet only 53 percent of them knew that Joseph Stalin was the leader of the Soviet Union when the United States entered the war (Ravitch and Finn 1987, 55). In a set of questions on the World War II period, high school students were tested on (1) factors leading up to the United States' involvement in the war, (2) characteristics of the war, (3) the end of the war, and (4) the United Nations. In general, students performed dismally on this set of questions. For example, 45% did not know that Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps during World War II. Fewer than two students in five (39.5%) put D-Day in the correct four-year period.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy This is a short and readable biography of American President Kennedy.

From the site:

John Fitzgerald Kennedy ( May 29 , 1917 - November 22 , 1963 ), often referred to as Jack Kennedy or JFK , was the 35th ( 1961 - 1963 ) President of the United States .

Kennedy was born in Brookline , Massachusetts , the son of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. In 1935 , he studied at the London School of Economics , then moved to Princeton University , but was forced to leave the latter during Christmas break because of an attack of jaundice . He then attended Harvard University , enrolling in the fall of 1936 , but he severely injured his back playing football . He traveled to Europe twice during his study at Harvard. The second was to Great Britain , while his father was serving as ambassador to that country. Kennedy returned, and wrote his honors thesis on analyzing the British portion of the Munich Pact of 1938 . He graduated cum laude from Harvard in June 1940 .

Military service

In the spring of 1941 , Kennedy volunteered for the US Army , but was rejected, mainly because of his injured back. However, he worked to strengthen himself during the summer, and was accepted by the US Navy in September of that year. He participated in various commands during World War II , but his most famous one was during March 1943 . With the rank of lieutenant , he received command of a patrol torpedo boat , or PT boat .

While his boat, PT-109 , was cruising west of New Georgia (near the Solomon Islands on August 2 , it was rammed by a Japanese destroyer . He was thrown across the deck onto his already injured back, but somehow rallied the survivors onto a nearby small island, himself towing a wounded man three miles through the ocean. After a few days of searching, he found two friendly islanders, whom he sent for aid with a message carved on a coconut . For these actions, Kennedy received the Purple Heart , Navy Medal and Marine Corps Medal . However, his back injury had been aggravated after being thrown on his boat, and he also contracted malaria . He was honorably discharged in early 1945 , just a few months before the Japanese surrender.

In May 2002 a National Geographic expedition found what is believed to be the wreckage of that PT-109 in the Solomon Islands.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Primary Sources for Medieval Studies

Primary Sources for Medieval Studies Information and bibliographies of primary sources for Medieval (particularly Irish) studies contained in the Boole Library, University College Cork.

From the site:

The purpose of this page is to facilitate students in their use of those published primary sources for the study of liturgy, hagiography and other aspects of medieval studies held in the Special Collections area of the Library (basement of Boole Library, Q-1). Manuscripts on microfilm and in fac- simile have been deliberately excluded. It is not a substitute for The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Catholic Encyclopaedia, or any other standard reference work (from which much of the information has been taken). Nor is it a substitute for the help which the library staff are always willing to give students.

The text is divided into three parts: Section 1 deals with liturgical works (Sacramentary, Pontifical, Ordines Romani, Martyrology, Liber Pontificalis, Missal, Antiphonary, Breviary). Section 2 describes mainly non-liturgical works published in series and other formats (Acta Sanctorum, Analecta Bol- landiana, Corpus Christianorum, Irish Manuscripts Commission, Scriptores Latini Hiberniae, Patrologia Latina, Henry Bradshaw Society Publications, Typologie des Sources du Moyen Age Occidental, Sources Chretienne, and Monumenta Germaniae Historica). Section 3 lists reference works, most of which do not require any commentary (exceptions are Dictionnaire d'Archeologie Chretienne et de Liturgie (DACL), Du Cange Glossarium, Clavis Patrum Latinorum).

I wish to record my gratitude to Professor Padraig O Riain of the Department of Early and Medieval Irish, who read the various drafts of this essay, for his encouragement, support and contributions. I am also very grateful to Dr S Connolly, Dr E Okasha, Dr J O'Reilly and Professor E O Carragain for their encouragement and support.