Plagiarism Discovered in Two Disunion Articles by the Same Author

My high school students are in the middle of their research projects and tomorrow I am scheduled to talk with them about plagiarism. Part of the discussion will involve having them look at examples so they can take the necessary steps to steer clear of what is unfortunately becoming all too common in the professional world. Earlier today the New York Times announced that two essay authored by Karen Abbott, “copied specific language and passages from several books and papers.” The two articles did include references to books from which the passages in question were taken, but without quotation marks the reader has no way of knowing that these are not the author’s own words.

I suspect that people are pouring through what I’ve heard is a very good book by this author on women during the Civil War. A review in The Civil War Monitor by Ashely Whitehead Luskey raised questions about the handling of citations. Continue reading “Plagiarism Discovered in Two Disunion Articles by the Same Author”

A Rush to Judgement

I’ve had some time to reflect on the story out of East Chapel Hill High School and I want to say what I hope will be some final thoughts. Thanks to Matt Gallman for his comment on an earlier post in which I expressed some criticism of the organizers of the field trip. Matt noted just how difficult it is for public school teachers to organize field trips to places like Gettysburg given how restrictive the curriculum is in which many teachers must operate. It’s an important point. I applaud these teachers for bringing their students to Gettysburg. As I’ve said many times before, there is no substitute for visits to actual historic sites. Continue reading “A Rush to Judgement”

East Chapel Hill High School’s Confederate Flag Problem

Over the past few days additional information has come to light surrounding the recent school trip to Gettysburg in which two students from East Chapel Hill High School were photographed waving Confederate flags on the battlefield. Much of the public discussion has focused on the two girls, but there has been little discussion about the tour itself. While I don’t claim to have all of the relevant information, enough has surfaced to give us a clearer understanding of the goals of the trip and the photograph.

This is a trip that takes place annually and is an extension of an Honors Civil War/American West course.

This is an honors course for students interested in two of the most crucial and romanticized periods of American history:  the Civil War and the exploration and settlement of the American West in the 1800s.  The course provides an in-depth look at the major causes of each; the events that took place; the people and groups that participated; the influence of personalities; and the lasting impact and legacy that the Civil War and American West have on the history of the US.  In this honors course, the materials are taught with greater complexity, novelty and acceleration.

As part of their tour of Pickett’s Charge students stage a reenactment of the attack. It’s unclear where exactly this lesson takes place. I suspect that the organizers of this lesson believe that they are providing their students with a deeper understanding of the battlefield.  At the outset students are given numbers, which instruct them on a specific action such as falling on the ground wounded or dead. Two students are handed school-owned Confederate battle flags. In the event that they fall during the charge two additional students are assigned the task of pickup up the flags and continuing the mock attack. The two students features in the controversial photograph were the final flag bearers. Continue reading “East Chapel Hill High School’s Confederate Flag Problem”

When It Comes to Confederate Flags, The History is the Context

It should come as no surprise that the two stories involving high school students waving and posing next to Confederate flags have become national news. It’s also painfully clear that the parties involved have no historical understanding of how to think through some of the important issues involved, namely the history. Last night the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board met to discuss the Instagram photo of two female students waving Confederate flags on the Gettysburg battlefield. A sizable crowd turned out to share their thoughts.

I am much more interested in the Chapel Hill situation precisely because it involves a school trip to Gettysburg. One comment that continues to surface, especially from those defending the girls, is that the photograph was taken out of context. What I take this to mean is that the girls did not intend to offend anyone in their school group or anyone who happened to see it online. It is unclear as to how the students came into possession of the flags, but regardless we can assume that the organizers of the event did not intend to offend anyone by sanctioning it. The father of one of the girls has repeatedly stated that the photograph was taken out of context. Continue reading “When It Comes to Confederate Flags, The History is the Context”

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Neo-Confederates

You can’t make up these stories. The other day I told you about two students who posed waving Confederate flags on the Gettysburg battlefield, along with a comment about purchasing slaves.

Yesterday a news story out of Colorado showed a group of students posing with guns and a Confederate flag as part of their prom celebrations.

Finally, we have the Maclay School in Florida, which decided to take their students deeper into the history of the Civil War with a reenactment that included the Confederate flag. Following a parent complaint about the flag, the school’s headmaster offered the following.

Maclay’s teachers are constantly seeking ways to deepen our students’ understanding of history. Project based simulations or hands on exercises are one way we help the students understand what history was truly like through experience and discussion. Our Civil War class this semester involved a reenactment of a battle complete with uniforms, flags, Nerf guns and in-depth discussions.

I do hope you weren’t drinking anything when reading that passage. Continue reading “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Neo-Confederates”