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Continuity and Change over Time
Transcript of Continuity and Change over Time
Custer's Last Stand or the Battle of the Greasy Grass?
The Idea of Continuity and Change
Students may not intrinsically have a "historical sense." They may see the people of the past as just like us but in funny clothes with no smart phones. However, the past is more akin to a foreign country than just an older version of the US, but it is still connected to students' present-day lives. Helping students "understand that some concepts, ideas, beliefs, and other historical factors have remained constant, whereas others have changed, makes the historic landscape continuous rather than simply segmented into units to be momentarily learned and quickly forgotten" (p. 117)
Introducing C&COT using the Pledge of Allegiance
The Pledge of Allegiance, originally written in the 1870s, began as a poem to commemorate the 400 year anniversary of Columbus's expeditions. Students faced the flag, performed the Bellamy Salute, and recited the following: "I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." (p. 118)
Legislative efforts in the 1920's made in response to fears about immigration following WWI changed the pledge. Students performed the Bellamy Salute and recited the following: "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" (p.118)
In the 1930's, the Fascist governments of Italy and Nazi Germany had adopted salutes similar to the Bellamy Salute. President Roosevelt pressured Congress to change the Bellamy Salute to with the right hand over the heart in order to differentiate between American democracy and European fascism (p. 119)
In the Cold War Era of the 1950's, the United States wanted to distinguish itself from the Soviet Union, a state that banned religion. To show its support for religious freedom, the US added "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance. Students placed their right hands over their hearts and recited the Pledge we know today. (p. 119)
Will a volunteer please rise, face the Flag, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance?
"Although most things change, what is important in history is determining why these changes occur and what factors lead to some aspects of political, economic, and social life remaining constant" (p. 120)
Examining the events and memory of the Battle of Little Big Horn gives students a chance to explore how and why the way an event is told and retold changes over time. The event itself does not change, obviously, but the interpretation of the event does change. This concept gives students the change to analyze relationships between the past and the present. (p. 120)
What are your initial reactions to this image? What do you think is its focal point? (p. 121)
What do you think motivated the artist to depict this scene in this particular manner? (p. 121)
This image was created in 1896 and was published and distributed by Anheuser Busch (p. 121)
What are your initial reactions to this image? What do you think is its focal point (p. 122)
This painting was created in the late 1800's by Kicking Bear when he returned to the reservation after touring with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Artist Frederick Remington asked him to paint images of his memory of the battle on the Little Bighorn River, and he painted the above painting twenty years after the battle.
What are some of the differences in these two depictions of the same event? Why might this event have been remembered and depicted differently?
Lesh states that his students' usage of the word "bias" frustrates him, because they tend to discount sources they view as biased, when in reality, all historical sources have an element of bias. He uses his students' mistaken thinking as a teaching moment. He asks them what the word "bias" means to them and how it might affect their interpretations. He forces them to confront their own thinking processes and to learn more about their own historical thinking. (p. 123)
He also expresses frustration with his students' usage of the word "truth" as it applies to their analysis of historical sources. Understanding that their developing minds tend to see the world in absolutes instead of made up of areas of gray, he explains to them that "sources simply represent the perspective of a person at a particular point in time," creating another teaching moment. (p. 124)
A word on words...
Facilitating student thinking beyond these terms "is a significant step in their evolution away from memory-history and toward a deeper and more nuanced understanding of history as a discipline." (p. 124)
The way you establish context should be based on your students' needs and your strengths
Effective lectures present an oral argument and lay out its supporting facts
Students can come to class with context, having completed reading the previous night (if there are enough textbooks for everyone)
No matter the method for its delivery, context must be established for a successful historical investigation. (p. 125-127)
You are a member of the National Park Service who must choose the name for the site of this battle. Your choices are...
The Battle of Little Bighorn National Monument
Custer's Last Stand National Battlefield
Sioux Victory National Battlefield
Custer's Battlefield National Monument
Native Victory National Battlefield
Greasy Grass National Battlefield
Little Bighorn National Memorial (p. 127-8)
Lesh then shows a video introducing the way that the media has portrayed this battlefield over the years, specifically, the glorification of Custer. After the video, Lesh gives the two names that the battlefield has had in the past- The National Cemetery of Custer's Battlefield in 1880 and Custer's Battlefield National Monument in 1946- and explains that the task today is to choose a new name for the site. He presents the students with the sources for investigation. (p. 128)
"Uncle Sam's Crook: Will He Straighten the Sinuous Sioux of the Yellowstone?" July 1, 1876
Cavalier in Buckskin: George Armstrong Custer and the Western Military Frontier
Custer and the Epic Defeat
Interview with Sitting Bull
Sitting Bull quote
Statement from Crazy Horse
U.S. Military Court of Inquiry of Lt. Jessie Lee
Personal Recollections and Observations,
Nelson Miles, 1896
Sermon about the Battle of Little Bighorn, August 1876
About halfway through the presentations, Lesh hangs signs around the room with the potential names of the site written on them and asks students to stand by the one that they agree with at this point. Students discuss their choices, finish the presentations, and once again choose their preferred name. They discuss whether or not they changed their minds and why. Finally, they complete a formative assessment in which they explain their choice in writing. (p. 130)
This investigation transforms a battle that occurred on the Western plains in 1876 to a "living piece of history"
Intertwining these specific events with the concept of continuity, change, and memory "empowers students to engage with the past as historians"
Giving students the chance to change the way an event is remembered through a name, even if the change only occurs in the classroom, shows them that history is still alive and that they can have an impact on it when they "formulate and justify a new interpretation of a seminal event in American history" (p. 134)
This framework can be applied to many different issues throughout history,and "framing these issues so that students use the historical record rather than emotions, deepens their appreciation for the power of history and strengthens their abilities to formulate, articulate, and defend an opinion" (p. 135)