From Jim Crow to Nazi Germany

A really interesting thing happened today in my senior level elective on the Holocaust. Over the summer students read Edward Larson’s book, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, which tells the story of American ambassador, William Dodd, and his family during their stay in Germany between 1933 and 1934. Larson builds his narrative around the concept of Gleichschaltung, which roughly translates into “coordination” or “to bring into line.” Today students engaged in a seminar around the question of whether they believed that the Nazis had achieved Gleichschaltung among the German population. It was a fascinating discussion that took just about the entire class. I observed and took detailed notes that we will spend tomorrow unpacking. Continue reading “From Jim Crow to Nazi Germany”

The Leftist Take-Over of College Board

Conservatives such as Stanley Kurtz can’t seem to say enough about the recent revisions made to College Board’s AP US History Curriculum. These changes will go into effect for this school year. Kurtz and others believe that the new curriculum reflects a dangerous turn to the left, though in the entire article the author fails to address what the new standards actually say. In other words, Kurtz fails at one of the basic skills taught in an AP History class: claim and evidence. Instead we are treated to claims laced with conspiracy.

The origins of the new AP U.S. History framework are closely tied to a movement of left-leaning historians that aims to “internationalize” the teaching of American history. The goal is to “end American history as we have known it” by substituting a more “transnational” narrative for the traditional account.

It goes without saying that I didn’t find these quotes in any College Board documents. Sharing one’s belief that it was a set up from the beginning may tell us more about the author’s mindset, but it tells us nothing about what is in the curriculum. It does little more than feed people who have never taught the class and already harbor fears about public education generally.

Continue reading “The Leftist Take-Over of College Board”

O’Connor’s Civil War Boston Back in Print

Civil War BostonI’ve devoured a good deal of Boston history since arriving in the city in 2011. Unfortunately and perhaps surprisingly, the one major gap in my understanding is the Civil War era. Apart from Thomas H. O’Connor’s Civil War Boston: Home Front and Battlefield there is really nothing available. Stephen Puleo’s books are helpful, but they are more narrative and lack that analytical edge.

The one exception to this is Stephen Kantrowitz’s, More Than Freedom: Fighting for Black Citizenship in a White Republic, 1829-1889, which as the title suggests focuses on the racial dynamic of Boston.

O’Connor’s study was published back in 1997, but apparently it was allowed to go out of print. Thankfully, Northeastern University Press has seen fit to bring it back in a new paperback version.

I am three chapters in and it is quite good. O’Connor does an excellent job of analyzing the complex ethnic and racial make up of Boston during the 1850s as the sectional divide widened. Coverage of the varied response to John Brown’s raid is particularly good. Continue reading “O’Connor’s Civil War Boston Back in Print”

Thinking About the Shaw Memorial and Civil War Memory

Tomorrow morning I will be spending some time online with a group of 7th and 8th graders, who are attending a Civil War institute that my friend and fellow teacher, Chris Lese, put together in Milwaukee. This guy is doing amazing things in the classroom and I am thrilled to be a part of it. Continue reading “Thinking About the Shaw Memorial and Civil War Memory”