Monday, April 03, 2006

Thinking with the Kids: History and Big Lies

Actually, we got the idea to blog on this topic after our daughter's Real Life Mysteries course decided to tackle the Rosenberg trial. The course materials (Northwestern's CTD), aimed at 4th to 6th graders, seemed a little skimpy, so we headed into the Internet to flesh out historical context.

At first, we picked up a middle school American history book to see if its discussion of the Cold War would be helpful, but then were appalled to see how little Communism was discussed ("an alternative political system based on shared property"). Was it like paper or plastic? Does anybody really teach history this way? Without know what Communism really was, made the Cold War seem like just like squabbling. Interestingly, it was often much easier to find information about McCarthyism and film industry problem.

Here are some links we found useful, in case some of you are covering this. There are some striking videos at the Nova Site Secrets, Lies, and Atomic Spies. There they've posted video interviews of family members of some of most notorious atomic spies. It's almost hard to believe how easily some people seemed to slide into betraying their country.

Hitler's "big lie" is haunting - the idea that "in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility".

The Trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg
Maps - 20th Century Governments
Holocausts of Communism Quiz
NOVA Online | Secrets, Lies, and Atomic Spies | Family of Spies
Animal Farm by George Orwell: A searchable online version
Ex-KGB Agent and the role of the Rosenbergs
The Big Lie - Wikipedia

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