Monday, June 30, 2014

Teaching the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Fifty years ago this week, Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act (he is pictured above shaking hands with Martin Luther King at the July 2, 1964 signing). One of the most important laws in U.S. history, the Civil Rights Act outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Although often portrayed as part of an overarching story of perpetual progress, this act was not inevitable (from 1945 until 1957, Congress considered and failed to pass a civil rights bill). It was a result of decades of tireless civil rights work and lobbying by groups like the NAACP and the SCLC. For many students, this event is usually presented briefly wedged between the 1963 March on Washington and the 1964's Mississippi Freedom Summer. However, there is an important political history leading up to the signing of the bill, including a complex and developing relationship between MLK and LBJ, that needs a deeper examination.

Teachers should consider using the below resources with students, helping them answer the inquiry question: What was the largest influence on Congress passing, and LBJ's eventual signing, of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

Secondary Sources:

PBS: Civil Rights Act of 1866

Eisenhower Presidential Library: Civil Rights Act of 1957

Smithsonian: A Deeper Look at the Politicians Who Passed the Civil Rights Act

Book: Judgement Days: Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Laws That Changed America

National Archives: LBJ on Civil Rights

CNN: 1964 Civil Rights Act Fast Facts

The Atlantic Monthly: How LBJ Saved the Civil Rights Act
 NPR: Reagan, the South and Civil Rights

TIME: Seven Things to Know About the Civil Rights Act

Primary Sources:

Dirksen Congressional Center: Civil Rights Act Timeline

JFK Library: Kennedy's Speech Proposing a New Civil Rights Act

LBJ Presidential Library: 1963 Conversation Transcript Between Johnson and King

The King Center: 1964 Letter from King to Johnson

LBJ Presidential Library: June 1964 Phone Conversations

C-SPAN: June 1964 Phone Conversations Between Johnson and FBI Director Hoover

You Tube: Newsreel: Johnson Signing the Civil Rights Act

The American Presidency Project: 1964 Election Results

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Teaching Tiananmen Square

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the end of the Tiananmen Square Protests, commonly referred to as the Tiananmen Square Massacre. In April 1989, the student-led pro-democracy protests began after liberal reformer Hu Yaobang's death (Hu had been deposed after losing a power struggle with hardliners in the Communist Party). Over two months, more than a million protesters flocked to the square. A statue of the "Goddess of Democracy" was erected by the protesters. The protests were relatively peaceful, but that changed on the evening of June 3rd, when Chinese government leaders sent the military (some estimates put the number at 300,000 soldiers) into Tiananmen Square. One of the most profound images of the massacre include the infamous picture titled the "Tank Man," which was taken on June 5th and became an international symbol for the rebellion. There is no accurate estimate of how many protesters died that day (one widely used estimate is 186 deaths, while others argue it could be in the thousands). There is no mention of the event in Chinese textbooks, but one museum in Hong Kong is trying to preserve the historical record of the event for the Chinese people.

The Chinese government's overwhelming military response to the protests and widescale censorship of the event matched with large scale economic reforms have suppressed any subsequent social protest movements. Today, protest and dissent continue to be repressed in China. This anniversary puts an international spotlight on a nation that has over 1,000 political prisoners (including the routine censorship and sometimes imprisonment of artist Ai Weiwei), tight security this week in Tiananmen Square to prevent any commemorations of the 1989 protest, as well as censorship of websites about the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

The Tiananmen Square Protests should be a central part of any unit on modern Asian in world history courses. Using the below list of primary and secondary sources, teachers should consider having students answer the following inquiry questions: "Should the Tiananmen Square Protests be remembered as a justified social movement for democratic reform or the military defending the nation against violent counter-revolutionary elements?"

Primary Sources:

The National Security Archive: Documents from Tiananmen Square Protests

Chinese Government Position: It is Necessary to Take a Clear-Cut Stand Against Disturbances

Tiananmen Square Protesters Position: Tiananmen Square Declaration of Human Rights

Interview with Student Leader and Protester Chai Ling

The Atlantic Monthly: Images of Tiananmen Square Protests

New York Times: Archival News Records of Tiananmen Square Protests

TIME Magazine: News Archives of Tiananmen Square

Modern History Sourcebook: China Since World War II

Primary Sources: Tiananmen Square Protests

Secondary Sources:

PBS Frontline: Tank Man

The Gate of Heavenly Peace Film

Moving the Mountain Film

BBC: The Lost Voices of Tiananmen

History Channel: Tiananmen Square Declassified

Lesson Plans on Tiananmen Square:

Indiana University East Asian Studies Center

National Consortium for Teaching About Asia

The China Project

CNN International

PBS Frontline

Civic Voices

Building a Constructivist Practice: A Longitudinal Study of Beginning History Teachers

My research is published in the latest issues of The Teacher Educator. Consider giving it a read.

Building a Constructivist Practice: A Longitudinal Study of Beginning History Teachers
The Teacher Educator
Volume 49, Issue 2, pages 97-115

Abstract: This longitudinal interpretative case study examined the constructivist beliefs and related practices of four secondary history teachers from their teacher preparation through their first year in the classroom. The results of this study showed that issues of classroom control were major barriers for the implementation of constructivist-oriented practices. However, contrary to some previous studies, learning to teach in transmission-oriented contexts did not result in the diminishing of the teachers' constructivist beliefs and in some ways affirmed their constructivist beliefs. Furthermore, the teachers expressed that a lack of practical tools hindered their ability to better and more frequently use constructivist-oriented practices in their classrooms.