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Posts Tagged ‘Curriculum’

6 Aims of Teaching Controversial Political Issues to Students

This is the second in a series of posts on teaching controversial political issues to students. The first post in this series discussed the benefits of teaching controversial political issues.


Educational aims are the hopeful bedrock on which every curriculum is built. They transcend class objectives, which are typically measured with tests and term papers. They are ideals that give teaching a higher purpose. They are long-term.

So what are the educational aims of a political education?

Critics often cite indoctrination, but a political education is not about forcing—or even forming—political viewpoints. It is about deliberation, the process of carefully considering and discussing political issues. It is about instilling and honoring democratic values—liberty, equality, justice—and participating in the democratic process. Although Thomas Jefferson never said that “an educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people,” he surely believed it. Democracy itself depends on concerned citizens who understand democratic values and the political process.

In The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education, Diana E. Hess and Paula McAvoy identify the aims of teaching controversial political issues to students. Six are defined here:

1.  Political Equity

Citizens are political equals, both as a birthright and as individuals with unique needs and perspectives.

2.  Political Tolerance

Citizens have unalienable rights, regardless of political viewpoints. Those in the majority rule cannot use public policy to discriminate against or persecute those who are in the minority.

3.  Political Autonomy

Citizens are free from oppression or coercion and free to form political opinions and participate in the political process.

4.  Political Fairness

Citizens think individually and collectively about finding the best solutions to promote the common good.

5.  Political Engagement

Citizens participate politically by staying informed, debating, voting, protesting, and campaigning.

6.  Political Literacy

Citizens think critically about controversial political issues and also understand the larger political context, such as historical context, the role of government, etc.

Although these aims are not always attained, they are ideals that democratic societies hope to achieve. And research suggests that some of these aims are indeed achieved, at least to some degree, when students are exposed to controversial political issues in school.

Young adults are often criticized for not voting as soon as they turn 18, yet many of them were never exposed to controversial political issues in school. This is illogical. A high school student quoted in Hess and McAvoy’s The Political Classroom explains why the aims of a political education are vital: “We are seniors. We are going out into the real world in a few months, a few weeks, actually, from now. And, you know, we have to be exposed to that stuff some time or another. Otherwise, you are going to be completely clueless.” (105) Well said.

The next post in this controversial political issues series will address the ethical issues of teaching political issues to students.

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The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education is available on ProQuest Ebook Central or wherever books are sold.


SIRS Issues Researcher is a pro/con database that helps students understand today’s controversial political issues with editorially selected analysis and opinions that cover the entire spectrum of viewpoints.

Don’t have SIRS Issues Researcher? Free trials are available.

ProQuest Joins Edmodo Community!

We have an Edmodo community page!

edmodo

For educators not yet using Edmodo in the classroom, it’s a free and secure social learning network for teachers, students, and schools. On Edmodo, teachers and students can collaborate, share content, and use educational apps to augment classroom learning with fun and engaging technology. To get started, see this great blog post from Educational Technology and Mobile Learning: All the Resources Teachers Need to Start Using Edmodo in Class.

For those of you already using Edmodo in the classroom, this community provides a seamless way for you to integrate ProQuest content directly into your classroom or library activities, saving you time searching for relevant materials. In our Edmodo collection, we are offering training resources, curriculum guides, free CultureGrams PDF reports and more directly based on your feedback.

We’re excited about our community to connect and collaborate with educators. Visit us at https://www.edmodo.com/publisher/ProQuest today and browse our collection for materials you can use in your classroom or library tomorrow!

Six ProQuest Resources for Holocaust Remembrance Day

We teach so that genocide on a mass scale, the specialty of the past century, can be circumvented in the future.”
― Bogdan Michalski, Why Should We Teach about the Holocaust?

As the quote above states, learning about genocide is more than a history lesson–it is an essential life lesson. Never forget. For this reason, the United Nations General Assembly designates each January 27–the anniversary of the liberation of concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau–as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this day, the United Nations encourages member states to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and to develop educational programs to prevent future acts of genocide.

As many countries, including Germany, Austria and France, and several U.S. states have mandatory Holocaust education in the schools, I highlight six ProQuest products where you can find a wealth of resources designed to meet the needs of students learning about the Holocaust and genocide.

1. ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher contains a Human Rights Leading Issue, which includes sub issues on Holocaust Denial and Genocide. Here, students can find timelines with links, overviews and articles on multiple perspectives to support their research. Perfect for debates or papers analyzing more than one side to an issue, each sub issue contains an essential question with supporting pro con articles. The Holocaust Denial essential question asks students the following question:

Should Holocaust denial be a crime punishable by law?

human rights

Visual Browse of the Human Rights Leading Issue, ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher

 

2. eLibrary offers more than fifty well-crafted Research Topic pages on the Holocaust, genocide and related issues. These pages are powerful visual testimonies with links to carefully selected articles, websites as well as a trove of primary source documents, videos and images.  Students can find these pages via keyword search or by clicking on the following link on the search page:

eLibrary link to list of Research Topics

Screenshot of eLibrary link to list of Research Topics

Rescue of the Danish Jews (see below) is one such Research Topic page:

Rescue of the Danish Jews

Example Research Topic Page, ProQuest eLibrary

 

3. Access CultureGrams to get concise historical overviews and maps of the countries in which the Holocaust occurred. CultureGrams is a fantastic resource full of reliable, up-to-date cultural content, including primary source interviews, videos and more. Students researching the Holocaust can use it to compare contemporary society with the ideologies, policies and governing methods of the totalitarian regimes during the time of the Holocaust.

CultureGrams: Germany

Screenshot of Germany in CultureGrams

 

4. History Study Center has in-depth study units with historical reference material on the Holocaust, Genocide in the Twentieth Century and more. Each unit includes both primary and secondary sources, including biographies, maps and video clips.

history study center

The Holocaust Study Unit, ProQuest History Study Center

 

5. Historical Newspapers (Graphical) offers a unique collection on the Holocaust with full-text newspaper articles from that time period. Students can access the collection via the timeline or the Topics tab.

historic newspaper article

Nov. 12, 1938, New York Times article via ProQuest Historical News Graphical

 

6. ProQuest Research Companion is a terrific resource that supports information literacy, writing and research skills to help students to effectively find, verify and use information. One of the valuable tools in this resource is the Source Evaluation Aid, which provides website information, such as top level domain, site owner and site description. This tool also indicates whether or not a particular site a student accesses online is a possible hate site, which is useful because sometimes it is not readily apparent whether or not a site might belong to a hate group.

Screenshot of the Source Evaluation Aid tool in ProQuest Research Companion

Screenshot of the Source Evaluation Aid tool in ProQuest Research Companion. The red flag alerts users that the website accessed is a possible hate site. The URL entered in this example belongs to the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (CODOH), which is listed in the Southern Poverty Law Center as an active Holocaust Denial group.

We are constantly adding new material to our products. If you have suggestions for new Holocaust topics for consideration for our products, feel free to let us know in the comments section below or tweet us at #ProQuest.

The First Thanksgiving Proclamation

The First Thanksgiving

“The First Thanksgiving” by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons

Thanksgiving is a particularly American holiday. Tradition traces it back to sometime during the fall of 1621. Only half of the original 102 passengers who had sailed on the Mayflower and landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts the previous December had lived through that first winter. The surviving Pilgrims joined their Wampanoag Indian neighbors for a three-day feast to celebrate the autumn harvest. Contrary to common belief, the celebration was not repeated.

It was nearly 55 years later when the governing council of Charlestown, Massachusetts held a meeting to determine how best to express thanks for the good fortune that had seen their community securely established. They issued what is known as the First Thanksgiving Proclamation, declaring a day of thanksgiving to be celebrated on June 29, 1676. Later, President George Washington proclaimed Thursday the 26th of November 1789 a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer.” In 1863, during the Civil War, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving. For the first time, Thanksgiving became a national, annual holiday with a specific date. It was celebrated on that day until 1939, when President Franklin Roosevelt caused a national uproar by moving the date up one week to allow an extra week of Christmas shopping as the Nation’s economy was still recovering from the Great Depression. For two years, Thanksgiving was celebrated on two different days throughout the country. On October 6, 1941, Congress ended the confusion by enacting a joint resolution declaring the last Thursday in November to be the legal federal holiday of Thanksgiving Day.

Goverment Reporter Historic Documents

Historic Documents Page in SIRS Government Reporter

The First Thanksgiving Proclamation is one of over 325 full text historic documents available on SIRS Government Reporter. Educators that need primary sources to support teaching with the Common Core State Standards or other curriculum needs can choose from speeches, treaties, legislation and other selected works of exceptional historic value that cover dates from 1215 (Magna Carta) up to the present (President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address). All documents are searchable by title, subject heading, or alphabetically, and each includes a summary explaining the background and significance of the document.

Turn to SIRS Government Reporter‘s Historic Documents feature for your primary source curriculum requirements, or learn more about the history and evolution of the Thanksgiving holiday at these websites from SIRS WebSelect:

Investigating the First Thanksgiving

George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving in North America: From Local Harvests to National Holiday

The Year We Had Two Thanksgivings

STEAM Resources for the Classroom and Library

fractal-139213_1280

Fractal Art by werner22brigitte [Public Domain] via Pixabay

STEM + Art = STEAM

STEAM is a movement that integrates an A for the arts into the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) initiative from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education.  STEAM education was created in 2006 by former teacher Georgette Yakman.

The Creative Component

Advocates of STEAM contend that there should not be a dichotomy between science and art. Instead, art should be seen as a driver of creativity that can foster innovation and spark engagement and learning in science education.

“Engineers, inventors, and designers produce drawings as part of their creative process. They draw to work out and refine concepts and details. They draw to persuade. They draw to give direction. And they draw to record their ideas and to learn from others.”–Doodles, Drafts, and Designs, Industrial Drawings from the Smithsonian

Pathway to Economic Growth

John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, sees STEAM as a pathway to fostering U.S. economic growth. Maeda, writing in Edutopia, has said that “[d]esign creates the innovative products and solutions that will propel our economy forward, and artists ask the deep questions about humanity that reveal which way forward actually is.” He cites Apple as well-known example of a company in which design is crucial to the success of technology.

Tried and True

The idea of integrating the arts and sciences in education is nothing new. Leonardo da Vinci, for example, was not only a famous Renaissance artist, but was also a scientist, engineer and inventor. In fact, he used his skills as an artist to draw his mechanical ideas.

“If someone had told Leonardo da Vinci, Newton, or Galileo that the study of science in the 21st century would be separated from the creativity of the arts or the social, cultural, and historical insights into human behavior offered by the humanities, they would have wondered what scientists had done to make the world disrespect them so much.  It’s an odd idea to separate out different kinds of knowledge that inspire and enrich one another in the real world and the virtual too.” – Duke Professor Cathy Davidson

Links for Teachers and Librarians

Over the past several years, more and more schools have begun integrating the arts into their STEM curricula. Below are six links you can use to incorporate STEAM into your classroom or library:

Websites for Students

Are your students working on a STEAM project and need a little inspiration? Below are five editorially-selected websites from ProQuest’s SIRS Issues Researcher.

If you’ve implemented a STEAM curriculum in your classroom or library, let us know what you’re doing in the comments section below or tweet us at #ProQuest.

 

This Day in History–Monkey Trial Begins

John Scopes in Court with His Lawyer

The Scopes trial, dubbed the “monkey trial,” received worldwide attention. John Scopes (second from left), in court with his lawyer Clarence Darrow (far left), taught evolution in his high school biology class. (Archive Photos)

On July 10, 1925 the State v. John Scopes “Monkey” trial began in Dayton, Tennessee, touching off a national debate on creationism, evolution, and public school teaching. High school biology teacher John T. Scopes was charged with violating Tennessee’s Butler Act by illegally teaching the theory of evolution. The “trial of the century” was an epic event, attended by hundreds of reporters and others who crowded the Rhea County Courthouse. The trial was covered on the front-page of the nation’s newspapers, with live nationwide radio coverage reporting the sensational news. The legendary Clarence Darrow, a renowned criminal defense attorney and an ardent opponent of religious fundamentalism, represented Scopes. The prosecution was led by former Congressman, Secretary of State and three-time Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, who was a leader in the anti-evolution movement. On July 21, the jury found Scopes guilty of violating the law and fined him $100, but the conviction was later overturned. The Tennessee law stood for another 42 years, until it was repealed in 1967. The verdict in the Scopes trial had a far-reaching effect on the teaching of evolution in public school classrooms. It was not until the 1960s that evolution began to reappear in school textbooks.

Today, almost 90 years later, the controversy over the teaching of evolution continues. To learn more about this topic, turn to SIRS Knowledge Source. SIRS Issues Researcher’s Teaching of Evolution Leading Issue features an overview of the subject, a selection of relevant full-text documents and multimedia resources, as well as an Essential Question with answers and viewpoints on both sides of the issue.

What do you think? Should the theory of evolution be a part of the science curriculum? We welcome your thoughts in the comment section below.

Build Academic Skills Over Summer Vacation

Skills Discoverer Feature in ProQuest SIRS Discoverer

Engage students during summer vacation through Skills Discoverer. Located within SIRS Discoverer, Skills Discoverer quickly connects students to a variety of editorially-selected educational websites. Game-like activities and challenges stimulate users as they practice skills in the curriculum-based subjects of art, health, language arts, math, science and social studies. Student can explore their academic interests and learn how to paint like Matisse, explore human anatomy, practice a foreign language, balance a personal budget, or take a scavenger hunt through history.