Tuesday, February 26, 2019

World War 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.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

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.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The last Queen of Hawaii, Queen Liliuokalani


Image result for queen liliuokalani

Students in 9th grade history have been learning about imperialism.  They have learned how the United States annexed Hawaii.  Even today, there are many groups who seek Hawaiian Independence.

Queen Liliuokalani was the last queen of Hawaii.  She was born in 1838 into the Hawaiian royal family.  She took the throne in 1891.   The United States had earlier forced a constitution, which was nicknamed the "Bayonet Constitution."  When she attempted to write a new constitution, she was arrested and placed in Iolani Palace.  In 1895, she was forced to give up her throne. 

The memories of Queen Lil and Hawaiian independence are a bittersweet story.  She composed the Hawaiian anthem, Aloha "oe" which is a very popular song.  It originally means the goodbye of a sweetheart, but it is very symbolic of the loss of the Hawaiian islands to American influence. 

Queen Lil never forgot her country.   She is still considered "our Queen" in Hawaii.  She died in 1917, at the age of 79. 

Many 9th grade students have been been to Hawaii.  I even have a few students, from time to time, who have Hawaiian ancestry--which is a cool heritage to have.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

African Americans in the post Civil War South

Image result for emmett till coffinIn August of 1955, fourteen year old Emmett Till went to visit his uncle and cousins in Mississippi. He was warned before he went there to "behave." This meant, of course, behaving like a second class citizen in the segregated Southern states. He was told not to look at white people in the eye, or act forward, or draw attention to himself in any way.

The facts are unclear, but Emmett may have playfully whistled at a white woman in a grocery store while he shopped with his cousins. Two days later, he was pulled from his bed and taken away, where he was beaten, mutilated and shot. His body was pulled from the Tallahassee River a few days later, maimed beyond recognition.

Emmett Till's brutal murder is to the Civil Rights Movement as Pearl Harbor was to the start of World War II. His body was returned to Chicago for burial. His mother demanded that the coffin be open so she could see for herself what had been done to her son. She then said that she wanted the coffin open...so that the 50,000 mourners would also see the truth of the segregated South.

A few months later, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus. When asked, years later, what she was thinking at that moment, she said: I was thinking about that boy, Emmett Till, and I just couldn't go back.

Students in 9th grade and 10th grade cover the era after the Civil War, when lynching, murder and  terrorism of African Americans was not uncommon.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Immigration to America


Image result for the circuit francisco jimenez


Image result for the circuit francisco jimenez


The great wave of immigration came to America through Ellis Island from 1892 through the 1950s.  Though Ellis Island is now closed, the port of entry for most Americans is through our southern and northern borders, or in an international airport.

When I moved to Canada in 1984, I also went through the immigration process.  I was first given a green card, then I became a landed immigrant, and finally, because I was a school teacher, it was required that I obtain Canadian Citizenship after I taught in the schools for seven years.  I studied very hard for my citizenship exam.  Since 2001, I returned to the United States, but I still hold dual citizenship though the United States only recognizes by birth citizenship.  I was born in Salem, Oregon.

Students  in 9th grade will be reading a book through the first week of December called the Circuit.  It is by Francisco Jimenez and it is about a family of Mexican migrant workers and the obstacles they face as they work in the United States.  It is an outstanding book, a true story, and is an opportunity for students to gain empathy about others' experiences when they journey to a new country.  The family in the book comes to America "illegally" but we will learn how many changes have been made since then.  This book is not a political statement by me, as the teacher, but a window into many challenges that people face when they come to a new country.  Parents are welcome to ask for a copy to read---we have a few copies available for them to check out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Crush your enemies....

Image result for abraham parnassus

In the time of the Robber Barons, one man, Andrew Carnegie, was the closest associated with Vertical Integration.    To ensure that Carnegie Steel made the maximum amount of profits, he owned the trains, ships, iron ore fields, and coal fields for his tremendous steel works.

Carnegie later gave money to communities around the world for libraries.  As of October, 2018, there are 17 Carnegie libraries in Oregon communities---that is, the libraries are still housed in the buildings that Carnegie helped to pay for.  Salem, Oregon received money from the Carnegie library grants, which helped to pay for half of our library (the community had to pay the rest).

Andrew Carnegie was just one of the Robber Barons---who liked to be called Captains of Industry, instead.  The names Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, Vanderbilt are other famous families of this era.  As an introduction to this era, students viewed a shortened version of the recent Saturday Night Live skit, where Abraham Parnassus, an oil baron, teaches the students to Crush their Enemies during Career Day.  I was a bit surprised to hear the same words used in the brief Rockefeller film clip the students viewed as we were taking notes.    Some of the students did a pretty good imitation of Mr. Parnassus words of advice, CRUSH your ENEMIES, when he described how he got ahead in the oil industry. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Lord Shaftesbury and the young miners.


Ninth grade students are now learning about the early Industrial Revolution and the effect it had on children.  They have also viewed a film about a young girl, Lyddie, who lived and worked in an Industrial Revolution Cotton Mill town.

Students also learned about the good earl, Lord Shaftesbury, who chose to use his background of wealth and education to make conditions better for children and their families in England during the middle of the 19th century.  Lord Shaftesbury's tireless reforms changed history.

This etching shows Lord Shaftesbury going down into the mines himself.  He saw the young boys and their mistreatment and spoke about it in Parliament.  There, no one could question him about his information--for he had been in the mines and seen the abuse of young people with his own eyes.  His testimony helped to contribute to the passing of important reform legislation, including the Mines Act of 1842.

One of his biographers, Georgina Battiscombe, has claimed that "No man has in fact ever done more to lessen the extent of human misery or to add to the sum total of human happiness