Monday, July 27, 2009

History Shmistory

Okay, here is another question for any students or teachers of history out there:

For the AP World History class I'll be teaching, I'd like to have a class set of texts. Not a textbook, since my school can't afford it, but something similarly comprehensive.

I was just looking at the New Penguin History of the World, but based on the reviews it looks like it's a little too Eurocentric for my taste. But I guess this Roberts guy is considered something of a guru, so maybe I could supplement it with my own readings.

This book, The Origins of the Modern World, is a great, short text, but I'm afraid the language is too difficult. I may use it as a supplement.

I also came across The People's History of the World, which I have not read, but since I'm a big Zinn fan I'll definitely check it out.

Or maybe I should just bite the bullet and have them all get the AP prep book. Then they can read texts on smaller topics in literature circles (like King Leopold's Ghost) (strokes beard excitedly...).

Any ideas? Anyone read any of these books? Help me please!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Yassky forever

Just when I thought I'd never post about Yassky again,

It turns out Yassky is a Four-Square Champion!

Also, ahead of the curve on saving the bees.

Shout out to former classmate Aaron Short.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Those damn communists

Today I asked my mom what she remembers about growing up in Charlotte, N.C. during the era of integration. She remembers being only vaguely aware of it; only that one year, in seventh or eighth grade, she showed up and suddenly there were black students at her school when they'd never been there before. They kept to themselves in the cafeteria, she said.

Then I asked, "what about the pool?"
"Oh, they closed the pool."


"Yeah, I forgot about that! They closed our pool for sure. We went at the end of my sixth grade year, and shortly after that it was closed."
My dad grew up in Greensboro, N.C., and would have been 11 when the Woolworth's lunch counter sit-in happened. I asked my mom if he'd ever talked about it. She said no, but that he'd spoken of restaurants with signs that read "No blacks, No Jews."

Friday, July 24, 2009

AP World History - Help!

For the past two years I've team-taught a humanities class with one of the school's founders, a veteran language arts teacher. We bill it as a college-style seminar. The first year we tackled disease in history and read Guns, Germs and Steel. Last year we examined the question "What is the American Dream?" and read books in literary circles from the Grapes of Wrath up to There Are No Children Here.

This year my partner, also my boss, has decided to shed that responsibility, but still wants me to offer an advanced-level seminar. I did a bit of research and decided to teach a course around the AP World History exam.

My dear readers: Have any of you ever worked with this exam? Have you taught this curriculum? Do you like it? Would you recommend it? Do you have any suggestions? I am an AP virgin and any/all advice would be so helpful!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Peacemaker Leymah Gbowee

This woman is amazing and makes me want to teach a class about peacemakers.

I had a professor in college who argued that women decide whether or not war is possible. He explained a theory, I'm not sure whose, that there are four types of women whose consent and collaboration are necessary for the prosecution of war: the faithful wife, the supportive mother, the prostitute away from home, and ____________________ (anyone know?).

Here is a case in which the faithful wife does not consent. Without her, the war effort cannot go on.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Leymah Gbowee
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorJeff Goldblum

Colbert: "Neutral Man's Burden"

A beautiful piece of social commentary:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Neutral Man's Burden
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorJeff Goldblum

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sol and Walter

My grandfather, my Zeide, Sol, drove a cab in New York City for a time after immigrating to the United States as a Holocaust survivor. He had some crazy stories, but one of the best was the time a man got in his cab and it turned out to be Walter Cronkite.

Zeide passed away in May. Maybe he's up there somewhere showing Walter Cronkite around one more time.

Pursuit of happiness

When the state of Minnesota told me I had to take two U.S. history classes to get my license here, I have to say I wasn't psyched. But I'm actually getting a lot out of being in history class 14 hours a week.

Recently we've been talking about the 1950s seeing an increase in the diagnosis of depression and prescription of antidepressants and tranquilizers. We talked about gender roles and how middle-class, college-educated women were expected to get all their satisfaction from staying at home, buying consumer goods, and raising children, while men were expected to derive satisfaction from bureaucratic jobs and being fathers.

Basically society was making them depressed because they didn't fit what they were told was supposed to make them happy.

I wonder how much of that is going on today. Why are so many of us depressed? What are we told will make us happy? And if that's a lie, what will truly make us happy?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.
According to David McCullough's John Adams, which I am slowly plowing through, Adams, who was a diary freak, wrote nothing on July 4 of that year. Jefferson wrote only about the temperature and a shopping trip to buy ladies' gloves. So there is reason to believe that nothing at all happened on July 4. Later in life, though, both Adams and Jefferson would swear up and down that it had all happened on the fourth. And, of course, they both died on the fourth, 1826, within hours of one another.