Saturday, November 06, 2004

Making a Community Interesting to Itself: Providing a Social Education through Urban History and Neighborhood Studies.

Making a Community Interesting to Itself: Providing a Social Education through Urban History and Neighborhood Studies. This is an interesting essay which gives tips and advice on how teach a community about itself with a focus on cities.

From the site:

The formal study of cities in American schools is a thing of the past. Urban studies courses, often accompanied by field experiences, have largely disappeared from the curriculum, especially in secondary schools. But, as is often the case with good ideas from the past, community studies and an urban focus are returning to the social studies. This digest reviews urban studies from a historical perspective. Then it offers some suggestions for educators anxious to reconsider the basic idea: using the story of the city, especially its neighborhoods and suburbs, as the basis for sustained investigation in social studies classes. In the process the city itself becomes a document, a primary source that students read as a text.


We live in the age of cities. It is estimated that in 2050 six billion of Earths nine billion people will live in metropolitan areas. For students, the best avenue to an urban awareness is the study of a particular city, usually the one nearby. And, to really know a city, a student must experience it firsthand. Book learning or virtual reality will not suffice, especially when we reflect on the deeper significance of education and ask a century old question: How can we make a community interesting to itself? The query is one that the sculptor Lorado Taft raised dozens of times in the early twentieth century. It is also an important question for educators who know that engaging the interest of their students is a prerequisite for effective teaching.

When framing an answer, we must keep in mind that the true test of a social studies education is what students do with their knowledge throughout their lives. In the decades of acute urban crisis in the United States, especially the 1960s and 1970s, scholars and educators paid a lot of attention to helping students connect with urban settings. Schools were to be a part of the battle to save Americas cities and to build strong local communities everywhere in the nation. Then a series of forces changed the direction of American education. The back to basics movement, with its increasing public insistence on academic standards, often narrowly focused on factual knowledge or academic skills; and the increasing detachment of schools from their communities, with the eclipse of the neighborhood school, turned the social studies toward reliance on basic textbooks. Field trips and study outside the school walls became less frequent in the 1980s and 1990s. Courses in urban studies, local history, and the built environment faded away, but never completely disappeared. Now, in the new century, old questions are being asked once again. How can we make a community interesting to itself? In which ways can schools best help their students prepare for a lifetime of learning? Why are cities so appealing? How should schools connect to their communities?

Friday, November 05, 2004

History of Bhutan

History of Bhutan. This is a decent overview to the history of the mountain nation of Bhutan.

From the site:

Bhutan's early history is steeped in mythology and remains obscure. It may have been inhabited as early as 2000 B.C., but not much was known until the introduction of Tibetan Buddhism in the 9th century A.D. when turmoil in Tibet forced many monks to flee to Bhutan. In the 12th century A.D., the Drukpa Kagyupa school was established and remains the dominant form of Buddhism in Bhutan today. The country's political history is intimately tied to its religious history and the relations among the various monastic schools and monasteries.

The consolidation of Bhutan occurred in 1616 when Ngawana Namgyal, a lama from Tibet, defeated three Tibetan invasions, subjugated rival religious schools, codified an intricate and comprehensive system of law, and established himself as ruler (shabdrung) over a system of ecclesiastical and civil administrators. After his death, infighting and civil war eroded the power of the shabdrung for the next 200 years when in 1885, Ugyen Wangchuck was able to consolidate power and cultivated closer ties with the British in India.

In 1907, Ugyen Wangchuck was elected as the hereditary ruler of Bhutan, crowned on December 17, 1907, and installed as the head of state Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King). In 1910, King Ugyen and the British signed the Treaty of Punakha which provided that British India would not interfere in the internal affairs of Bhutan if the country accepted external advice in its external relations. When Ugyen Wangchuck died in 1926, his son Jigme Wangchuck became the next ruler, and when India gained independence in 1947, the new Indian Government recognized Bhutan as an independent country. In 1949, India and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which provided that India would not interfere in Bhutan's internal affairs but would be guided by India in its foreign policy. Succeeded in 1952 by his son Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, Bhutan began to slowly emerge from its isolation and began a program of planned development. Bhutan became a member of the United Nations in 1971, and during his tenure the National Assembly was established and a new code of law, as well as the Royal Bhutanese Army and the High Court.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Early Dynastic Egypt

Early Dynastic Egypt - Francesco Raffaele presents an illustrated history of the second and third dynasties, king by king, with references. Also corpora of First Dynasty labels and early dynastic inscriptions, and articles.

From the site:

This is a detailed account of the History and Archaeology of the Egyptian Early Dynastic Period: check out the pages on the Second and Third Dynasty and on Dynasty 0. If you are interested in Late Predynastic Egypt (Protodynastic) and Early Dynastic period you'll certainly find here what you're searching for. There are also 4 corpora: First Dynasty Wooden and Ivory Labels, Early Dynastic Inscriptions on Stone Vessels, Naqada IIIb1-2 serekhs and Late Predynastic Decorated Palettes; articles, news, many pictures, images galleries, links and especially abundant text.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

John Tyler

John Tyler. This is a biography of American President John Tyler. It is a brief overview but it is well written.

From the site:

John Tyler ( March 29 , 1790 - January 18 , 1862 ) of Virginia was the tenth ( 1841 ) Vice President of the United States , and the tenth ( 1841 - 1845 ) President of the United States . He was the second President born after the signing of the Declaration of Independence , and the first to assume the office of President following the death of his predecessor.

He studied law with his father, John Tyler (1747-1813), who became Governor of Virginia (1808-1811), and followed his father as governor (1825-1827) after a stint in the House of Representatives. During his time as U.S. Senator, Tyler, who had begun as a strict state-rights Democrat, grew increasingly alienated from the Jacksonian Democrats, especially by Jackson's aggressive handling of the South Carolina nullification issue.

Drawn into the newly-organized Whig Party , Tyler was elected Vice President in 1840 as running mate to William Henry Harrison , on the slogan "Tippecanoe—and Tyler too!" and assumed the presidency upon Harrison's death a month into his term.

Tyler was the first Vice President to assume the Presidency in this manner. On April 6 , 1841 , he took the Presidential oath of office as specified by the Constitution. The Cabinet and Congress agreed with Tyler that he was President and not merely Acting President, and as the Constitution was not explicit on that aspect of succession (until the 1967 ratification of the 25th Amendment ), both the House and Senate passed resolutions recognizing Tyler as President.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The Electric Eclectic

The Electric Eclectic. This is a great collection of history Web sites. It is organized by Jim Eccleston. I guess he just adds stuff he likes. Regardless, this is a good collection and I will be using it to find more quality sites in the future for this blog.

Monday, November 01, 2004

History of Burundi

History of Burundi. This essay provides a good overview to the history of the African nation of Burundi.

From the site:

In the 16th century, Burundi was a kingdom characterized by a hierarchical political authority and tributary economic exchange. A king (mwani) headed a princely aristocracy (ganwa) which owned most of the land and required a tribute, or tax, from local farmers and herders. In the mid-18th century, this Tutsi royalty consolidated authority over land, production, and distribution with the development of the ubugabire--a patron-client relationship in which the populace received royal protection in exchange for tribute and land tenure.

Although European explorers and missionaries made brief visits to the area as early as 1856, it was not until 1899 that Burundi came under German East African administration. In 1916 Belgian troops occupied the area. In 1923, the League of Nations mandated to Belgium the territory of Ruanda-Urundi, encompassing modern-day Rwanda and Burundi. The Belgians administered the territory through indirect rule, building on the Tutsi-dominated aristocratic hierarchy. Following World War II, Ruanda-Urundi became a United Nations Trust Territory under Belgian administrative authority. After 1948, Belgium permitted the emergence of competing political parties. Two political parties emerged: the Union for National Progress (UPRONA), a multi-ethnic party led by Tutsi Prince Louis Rwagasore and the Christian Democratic Party (PDC) supported by Belgium. In 1961, Prince Rwagasore was assassinated following an UPRONA victory in legislative elections.

Full independence was achieved on July 1, 1962. In the context of weak democratic institutions at independence, Tutsi King Mwambutsa IV established a constitutional monarchy comprising equal numbers of Hutus and Tutsis. The 1965 assassination of the Hutu prime minister set in motion a series of destabilizing Hutu revolts and subsequent governmental repression. In 1966, King Mwambutsa was deposed by his son, Prince Ntare IV, who himself was deposed the same year by a military coup lead by Capt. Michel Micombero. Micombero abolished the monarchy and declared a republic, although a de facto military regime emerged. In 1972, an aborted Hutu rebellion triggered the flight of hundreds of thousands of Burundians. Civil unrest continued throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

The History Guy: The Invasion of Grenada

The History Guy: The Invasion of Grenada - Provides an explanation of the causes of this conflict along with an overview of consequences and casualties.

From the site:

The U.S. invasion of Grenada and the toppling of it's Marxist government can be seen as part of a greater regional conflict. This conflict involved the U.S. and it's Central American and Caribbean allies on one side and Fidel Castro's Cuba, the Sandinista government of Nicaragua and various Marxist guerrilla armies on the other. President Reagan and his administration were concerned that the Marxist government of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop was allowing Cuba to gain undue influence in Grenada, specifically by constructing a military-grade airport with Cuban military engineers.

On October 13, 1983, the Grenadian Army, controlled by former Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard, seized power in a bloody coup. The severity of the violence, coupled with Coard's hard-line Marxism, caused deep concern among neighboring Caribbean nations, as well as in Washington, D.C. Also, the presence of nearly 1,000 American medical students in Grenada caused added concern.

However, along with concern, came opportunity. With President Reagan's worldwide efforts to confront what he viewed as the threat by the Soviet Union and other Communist countries (such as Cuba), the turmoil in the Caribbean provided a timely excuse to eliminate a Marxist government and give Fidel Castro a black eye.