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American Civilization - HiST

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Torgeir Kvendset

on 24 February 2016

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Transcript of American Civilization - HiST

What is typical American?
Make a list of five words, names or expressions that come to mind when you hear the term 'The United States'.
In my experience these are four of the most common things mentioned by Norwegian pupils when asked to do this:
- Fat people
- Violence
- Reality television
- Gangs

After year 7:

- narrate about some persons, places and events
in English-speaking countries

- converse about the way people live and socialise in different cultures in English-speaking countries and in Norway, including the Sami cultur

- express own reactions to English literary texts, films, internet culture, pictures and music
After year 10:

- discuss and elaborate on the way people live and how they socialise in Great Britain, USA and other English-speaking countries and Norway

- explain features of history and geography in Great Britain and the USA

- create, communicate and converse about own texts inspired by English literature, films and cultural forms of expression

- communicate and converse about contemporary and academic topics
Competence Aims from the national curriculum

har kunnskap om levesett og kulturuttrykk i engelsktalende land med vekt på tekster for barn og unge som fremmer interkulturell læring, samt innsikt i språkstimulerende bruk av tekster i undervisningen

kan legge til rette for et trygt læringsmiljø med variert, differensiert og meningsfylt læringsarbeid som fremmer utvikling av lytting, skriving, lesing og tale og et gradvis større ordforråd for alle elever

kan anvende fagkunnskap didaktisk og reflektert i forhold til gjeldende læreplan for grunnskolen og kritisk vurdere egen undervisning

kan legge til rette for elevers arbeid med engelskspråklige tekster og utforskning av levesett og kulturuttrykk i engelsktalende land sett i relasjon til egen kultur, med hovedvekt på skriftlige, muntlige og sammensatte tekster for barn
How to teach American Civilization
- What do the students/pupils already know about the United States?
Mind maps
Relate to pictures
Their own experiences
Teaching American culture and society

How would you start and what would you focus on?
Possible aspects to teach
Racial Issues
Popular culture
Gun Control
Native People
Strange Fruit
Possible tasks:
Imagine that you are one of the characters on the picture below. Describe what has happened and how you feel about it.
Write two paragraphs where you explain what the song 'Strange Fruit' is about. Do also include your own opinions on this particular song.
American History
Using short video clips to introduce a topic might be one way of drawing attention.

Example 2: Liberty's Kids - The Boston Tea Party
Example 3: The President Song
Popular Culture
Music and movies can be used for several things in the classroom, but in the context of American civilization they can give students an insight into the history, and/or culture of the United States.

Example 1: 'In the Ghetto'
Example 2: 'The River'
Example 3: 'Forrest Gump'
Example4: 'The Pursuit of Happyness'
Source: LK06 (www.udir.no).
Source: Emnebeskrivelse for engelsk
Education must [...] be tied to the pupil’s own observations and experiences. The ability to take action, to seek new experiences
and to interpret them, must depart from the conceptual world with which pupils enter school.
Source: Core Curriculum
Relate to pictures.
What can the following pictures tell us about American society?

How are the people/places/events important?

1. Discuss the contemporary USA based on some historical characteristics and pivotal events.

2. Reflect on how to teach American Civilization.

3. Discuss a few possible methods of teaching American society and history in the classroom.
- Is it possible to understand American society without having knowledge about its past?
- What is typical American, or rather, is there anything that is typical American?
Racial Issues
Freedom Fighters
Civil Rights Movement
From Martin Luther King jr. to Barack Obama
Police shootings

Example 1: 'Strange Fruit' by Billie Holiday
See you next week!
To avoid these stereotypes one must try to:

1. Get a better understanding of the US.

2. Be able to view the contemporary USA as a result of its past.

3. Make pupils realise the vastness of America's people, cultures, geographic area and mindsets.
The Economy
Agricultural society
Market Economy
marketing, advertising, technology, cheap products, rationalisation, management and good service
1929 - Wall Street
The Great Depression
Government Intervention
Roosevelt's "New Deal"
Social Security Act 1935
US Economy after World War II
Global Dominance
Economic Freedom
Pursue self-interest and profit-making
Supply and demand
Private ownership
Government - anti-monopoly and deregulation measures.
More intervention now than
before (particularly with Democratic governments).
The American Dream
What do we mean by this expression?
Is the American Dream possible for everyone? Why/why not?
'A belief in individualism does not imply automatic success, although it is generally felt that achievement and material prosperity may result from personal hard work'
Mauk and Oakland:232.
'[...] the US economic system has deep weaknesses in providing opportunity and choices to all Americans to advance themselves.'
Mauk and Oakland:232.
Social Class in the US
A classless society?
Job status, income, capital and birth.
Industrialisation - increasing differences.
Distribution of wealth
In 2013, the official poverty rate was 14.5 percent, down from 15.0 percent in 2012.
In 2013, there were 45.3 million people in poverty.
The poverty rate for children under 18 fell from 21.8 percent in 2012 to 19.9 percent in 2013
Source: United States Census Bureau
Why is this relevant?
Social Services
How does the system of social services in the USA differ from the Norwegian system?
Traditional View
Social provision a personal matter and the responsibility of the family and individual
Little intervention from state and federal government
Gradual change, but to what extent?
After Roosevelt's New Deal, federal and state governments became more involved in planning social policies.
Mauk and Oakland: 255
Lyndon B. Johnson
War on Poverty
Great Society
Ronald Reagan
Reduce spending on public programs
Individual responsibility
George Bush
Also tried to reduce public spending
Bill Clinton
Wanted to introduce universal health care
Barack Obama?
We are the 99%
"Occupy Wall Street"
After year 4:

- give some examples of English-speaking countries and famous people from these countries

- converse about some aspects of different ways of living, traditions and customs in English-speaking countries and in Norway
Today's Lecture
Where to start?
What is important?
Is it important?
Understanding today's USA
How can the history of the US help us explain the following issues?
Gun control
Illegal immigration
Role of government
Death penalty
Urban poverty
Regional differences
Egalitarianism: belief in the equality of all people, especially in political, social, or economic life.

Individualism: a social theory advocating the liberty, rights, or independent action of the individual
Utopian society: having impossibly ideal conditions, especially of social organization

Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Is it possible, based on history and the current situation in the US, to oppose this view of America?
The American Dream
Is the American Dream possible for everyone? Why/why not? Has this changed throughout time?
Three things about America rendered it irresistible to utopians. It was enormous; it was mostly empty; and it had a tradition of religious liberty, eventually enshrined in the First Amendment.

Americannes as defined by many Americans
self-reliance, individualism, utopianism, egalitarianism, freedom, opportunity, democracy, liberty, anti-statism, populism, a sense of destiny and respect for the law.

(Mauk and Oakland, p. 12)

Authentic Sources
What do we know?
Is the US utopia?
Full transcript