Monday, April 2, 2018

Josephine Baker in Paris in the 1920s

In 9th grade history, students are learning about the changes to society after World War I. They have seen some of the "Dada" creations and also the new dresses of Chanel. They have also seen this picture of the famous Josephine Baker in her banana skirt.  Josephine Baker was an American woman who traveled to Paris.  She lived there with other artists and writers who became known as part of the "lost generation," artists who were disenchanted and searching for meaning after the devastation of World War I.

She danced in a show called La Revue Nègre, it proved to be a turning point in her career. Amongst a compilation of acts, Josephine and dance partner Joe Alex captivated the audience with the Danse Sauvage. Everything about the routine was new and exotic, and Josephine, boldly dressed in nothing but a feather skirt, worked the audience into frenzy with her uninhibited movements. She was an overnight sensation.

Just as Picasso and cubism borrowed from African elements, Josephine also paid homage to her African roots. Though she will always be known for her iconic look during her 1920's dance revue years, her later years were just as interesting....she went on to adopt 12 children from different ethnicities.  She became a champion of human rights and opposed racism.  She continued to live in France, but her older years were filled with support for causes that addressed injustice in the world.  

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

World War I Propaganda Posters

We are well under way in our study of World War I.   Students have learned about the start of the war, Trench warfare, and the various weapons that were created during the war.

We also discussed and looked at a variety of war posters from the era, including the one above.  Look carefully and you will see that the Germans have made their way to Kansas, killed the old man farmer, the grandma, and are about the kill the young farmer and sexually abuse his wife...yes it is all there, and men better enlist to stop the enemy.  Students will be copying a poster during some time in class while we continue to learn more about the course of the war.   We've taken a look at the distinctive German war helmet, the Picklehaube which is easily identifiable in many of the posters. 

When I was a child, the old timers still called the Germans "Huns" and yes, even the Japanese were sometimes called "Japs."  This was a different era, and many of my uncles had served in World War II and had bitter memories about the war that took so many of their comrades.

Also, the idea of going off to war in World War I was not that popular in America.  Many called it a "Britishman's war," and the nightmare of losing a son in a far off battlefield, when there wasn't universal support, foreshadowed similar conflicts during the Vietnam War.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Titanic and its role in history

Everyone is riveted by the story of the Titanic, which sank in the North Atlantic on April 15th, 1912.
Over 1500 passengers died.  The story has many gripping elements:  women and children were loaded into the life boats first, it was going too fast, and great changes in maritime law were a result of the tragedy.

When I was young, my grandfather, who was born in 1900, told me how he went to hear a fireman speak about the ordeal in Albany, Oregon.  The fireman had survived the ordeal by swimming in the ocean and wearing a fur coat.  My grandfather paid 25 cents to hear the man speak.  I was always intrigued by the picture of this man swimming around in a fur coat and wondering why he didn't sink!

The story is also much more:  there was a rivalry between Germany and England in the luxury ship lines.  Germany had the four fastest ships at the time, with the Deutschland ocean liner being the leader.  Countries supported the building of these ships, because, in case of war, they could always use them for troop transports.  A few of my students have been down to see the Queen Mary ocean liner, which is moored in Long Beach, California.  It was repainted and renamed the Grey Ghost, and took thousands of troops across the Atlantic to Europe in World War II.  Even during the Falklands war, the British government took the Queen Elizabeth II ocean liner out of private service and had it re outfitted as a troop transport, then, after the war ended, it returned to service.

Historians also point out that the Titanic foreshadowed many events---the clash of Mother nature with technology, and the blind faith in man's hubris or pride in his achievements.  Of course, in a few years, Europe and many other parts of the world will face the upheaval of World War I, with millions dead and catastrophic destruction.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Imperialism: Economics, Strategic, and Humanitarian....

Ninth grade students are learning about Imperialism during the last few weeks of the semester.   They will be learning about old imperialism vs. new imperialism:

Old Imperialism:  God (religion), glory, and greed....

New Imperialism:  Humanitarian reasons, Strategic areas, New Markets

There were differences between the New Imperialism and Old Imperialism.
 New Imperialism was in many ways more intrusive and harmful to native cultures.  However, not all of Imperialism was bad....for many who lived in less developed countries, medicine was available that was life saving. 
Here is a picture that shows both a religious and medical influence.  It depicts an idealized picture of how Western societies view medical help to the "primitives" in the societies they sought to dominate.  Though the main motives for imperialism were economic and strategic, many good people wanted to help less advanced countries adopt modern methods of sanitation and better medical care.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Ernest Thompson Seton and the lessons he learned from Lobo the wolf.

Freshman students have learned about OR7, our own wandering wolf.  They have also learned about the story of Ernest Thompson Seton and his trapping of Lobo and Blanca.

Seton was sent to New Mexico as a Wolf Bounty Hunter.  The wolves were eating cattle in large numbers, because their prior food source, the buffalo, had disappeared.

Seaton carefully laid out poisoned meat and concealed traps.  None of them worked, and Lobo refused the meat and snapped the traps.  It was only when Seton trapped Blanca, Lobo's mate, that he was finally successful.

However, he did not shoot Lobo, but brought him back to a cabin, where, a few hours later, Lobo died.  Seton used Lobo's story in a best seller, entitled "Wild Animals I have Known."  Seton was later accused of "faking nature" by giving human attributes to wild animals.

Since that time, however, the humanization of animals has actually been an effective tool in helping to promote conservation efforts.  With the wide availability of articles and movies about animal behavior, everyone can gain access to studies on animal behavior.

The story of Blanca and Lobo takes place during the great decline of animal populations in the American West.   Now, as the wolf population gains a toehold in the Southen Cascades, the ideas of wilderness, wild animals, and how they impact humans and the environment are discussed.  Most are "thrilled" with the idea that the wolves have
returned to an area where they had been exterminated

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


FRESHMAN STUDENTS:  Click on 9th grade history and write down the answers for your final exam study sheet.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Great Wave of Immigration 1880-1920

Shaun Tan and The Arrival

Students in 9th grade history are reading a very special book...but it is a book without words,only illustrations.  The book was written by Shaun Tan, and it is called The Arrival.
In the book, he sought to illustrate an immigrant's life in a way that is both fantastic and strange, so that it closely replicates what life must have been like for someone coming to a new country.

Monsters with tentacles, and giants who vacuum up men are all symbolic of the many reasons why immigrants came to this new country.   Censorship and the wars of despotism are also included....all in a fanciful books filled with different images based somewhat on the iconic immigration photos of the late 1800's.