Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Which has more significance: taboo discussion at the individual or societal level? Why do you believe this is the case? Discussion Question #2: After reading the dilemmas of Dietrich Bon - Writingforyou

Which has more significance: taboo discussion at the individual or societal level? Why do you believe this is the case? Discussion Question #2: After reading the dilemmas of Dietrich Bon

 Discussion Question #1: Which has more significance: taboo discussion at the individual or societal level? Why do you believe this is the case?

Discussion Question #2: After reading the dilemmas of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, what decision would you make and justify in the killing of Adolf Hitler.

Module 4: Taking a Stand: Clear Discussion on Public and Persisting Issues

This module further expands on the decision-making curriculum through persisting issues developed from the Harvard Social Studies Project. As you read the material in this module, reflect on when you were a student. Did you experience what could be described as "dull and boring" social studies classes? This module's goal is broken into four categories. First, you will examine the essential characteristics of persisting issues. Second, you will read about "taboo topics." These are topics that most social studies teachers say they would teach but never do. This article raises important issues and questions about what should and should not be taught in the classroom. Third, you will begin to "unpack" the elements of prevailing issues by examining the Moral Reasoning packet. While this does not appear to be earth-shattering, this was considered one of the first attempts to bring social topics into the social studies classroom. Finally, you will receive the guidelines for your lesson on persisting issues due in week five.

Module Notes

Persisting Issues

Throughout the social studies curriculum, one will find "persisting issues." Persisting issues are intended for students to be more than a spectator of the curriculum but to become thinking, acting, and evaluating participants in social studies content and modern life. Persisting issues do not provide students with traditional, ready-made right or wrong answers to social questions and problems. Instead, the rationale behind persisting issues is for students to analyze situations for conflicting views and determine what they perceive as the correct outcome to relate historical events to students' perspectives. Research conducted by VanSledright (2004) indicated that such active learning and student involvement aids in the connection of historical comprehension because the prevailing preoccupation with having students commit one fact after another to memory based on historical textbook recitations and lectures does little to build capacity to think historically.

A "persisting issue" relates to the story or material related to the book and is often considered a stand-alone lesson regarding reliance on outside resources. Research suggests the close relation between value dilemmas and the increased emphasis on student decision-making on problems often presented connect the content to the student's interests, thus increasing student interest in the content presented and, as a result, encouraging active engagement in the historical learning process. The significant difference between the case study approach and persisting issues is the varying lack of structure regarding prescribed steps found in the case study method and content-centered learning while still placing students into value decision-making dilemmas directly associated with the content material.

The process of designing and writing a persisting issue is not necessarily hard. The writing process comes down to two popular forms: 1)A reading with persisting questions of modern life that relates to material covered in the classroom/book, or 2) the form of persisting issues, which are stand-alone lessons that have a direct correlation with the material covered in the class/book. When you read the article titled Moral Reasoning, you will notice that questions after the reading are called "persisting questions of modern life." This is an example of the first form. These are exactly as they appear. They are issues or vignettes directly related to a values-based dilemma — Shipwreck of William Brown. Here, you will find a short value dilemma followed by decision-making questions and samples of analogies that provide fuel to complicate a student's decision. The second form of persisting issues can be found in our good old example, "The Wounded Prisoner." Look at the short story titled The Wasting of a Village. In the case of William Brown, this story deals with events students examine in class. In this case, you have the first form of persisting issues. However, it becomes a shorter and often easier lesson when you shorten this story to a single document. This can be used without the story if the teacher merely wishes to discuss issues associated with the Vietnam War and Social/Political Unrest in the United States. So, in sum, you have two choices:

Values / Decision-Making Dilemma

Short Story Form with Single Lesson with

Value-laden questions a short description

Extended Version of Persisting Issues = examples found in University Reader (Moral Reasoning)

Short Version of Persisting Issues = one page in length. Provides clear directions to material covered in class and provides choices or alternatives for students (when available). See examples below.

Persisting Issues: Immigration

Directions: Pretend you are a member of Congress. Your responsibility is to arrive at an immigration policy that will be most fair and best protect the United States' interests. Evaluate each of the following criteria that might be used to determine whether or not an immigrant might be allowed to enter this country:

a. The candidate for immigration should already speak English.

b. The candidate should be able to read and write his / her native language even if he cannot speak English.

c. The candidate should never have committed a felony (serious crime) in his / her native country.

d. The candidate should never have been involved in covert activities in his / her native country.

e. The candidate should be given special consideration if he/she has tried to overthrow a non-democratic government and is being persecuted for this political activity.

f. The candidate should be given special consideration if he/she lives in a country threatened continuously by famine.

g. The candidate should be given particular attention if he/she has been educated in the United States and has friends who live here.

h. The candidate should be given special attention if he/she has friends in U.S. political office.

i. What are other criteria you think could be added to the list?

Selecting Criteria

Make up an application form to be used by persons applying for immigrant status. Explain why your questions and the types of information you request are necessary.

Applying Criteria (Optional)

After an "immigration application" form has been developed, duplicate it and fill out several of them with the information given by people in your school or community. Then, the applicants should be placed according to which should be allowed to enter the country first.

*In this particular lesson, I designed a lesson on persisting issues in conjunction with my unit called Cities and Immigrants, taught in United States history. The directions ask students to pretend they are members of Congress and enact legislation regarding immigration reform. Students are to evaluate the various "criteria' (choices or values) for entrance into the country. This lesson may introduce the topic of new immigrants or be used as a closure or a formative assessment (participation grade) to check for understanding. Regardless, it often became "heated" and exciting when students were placed into small groups of three. Also, this "small persisting issues lesson" was more comfortable to manage than the extended versions in your reading Moral Reasoning.

Persisting Issues: Poverty and the Depression

Directions: Below is a list of problems encountered during the depression and the types of responses. Put the responses in order from "most reasonable" to "least reasonable" by numbering them: 1 = most reasonable, 2 = next most reasonable, etc.

Problem: People lose their jobs and no longer can buy food.

Alternatives Available

a. beg in the streets and scavenge in dumps

b. steal secretly

c. organize groups to protest by stealing openly from grocery stores

d. quietly starve

e. organize a protest on the steps of city hall

Problem: People who lose their jobs can no longer pay rent or make mortgage payments.

Alternatives Available

a. continue living in one's apartment or home and barricade oneself in if there is any attempt to be kicked out

b. continue living in one's apartment or home and defend oneself with guns, if necessary

c. move onto the streets when convicted, and camp in front of one's home or apartment in protest

d. move to a vacant lot and camp quietly

e. move in with friends or relatives, even though this may become a significant disruption in their lives

Problem: A local construction company that repairs and maintains homes and apartments is about to leave because people cannot afford to pay for its services, even though they are needed.

Alternatives Available

a. have the city take over the company and run it as a "public service."

b. have the city give money to private homeowners to keep their homes in repair if they show they cannot afford to pay for such repairs

c. have the city give money directly to the company to keep it in business but maintain it as a private enterprise

d. let the company go out of business

Persisting Issue: The War on Poverty

Directions: You represent your state legislature during President Johnson's War on Poverty. Your fellow representatives must evaluate and rank the following proposals with a declining budget. Please decide on three choices and prepare to defend your proposal to the class.

a. The problem will eventually solve itself. In the long run, people will pull themselves up by their bootstraps and be better for it than when helped continuously by public funds.

b. No public funds should be given, but individuals should give through charitable organizations like the United Way, Red Cross, etc. This will protect the weak from extreme hardship but prevent them from thinking the Government owes them something.

c. Continue with the present Aid to Dependent Children program, whereby a mother is given a certain amount to raise each child so long as the mother has no financial support.

d. Provide a family allotment program in which all families would be given a basic minimum income regardless of what other sources of money they might earn by working.

e. Give a guaranteed annual wage and find jobs for everyone wanting to work. People could work short hours and earn reasonable incomes if jobs are lacking.

f. Undertake extensive training and relocation of poor people whether they want it or not. Move them to where labor shortages exist and make them work for a living, training them if necessary.

g. Send poor people and families who cannot "make it" in the traditional competitive society to good care centers, where they would be cared for and educated away from the stresses of modern urban life. They could leave whenever they could hold a job on the "outside."

h. "Other," Please explain your idea.

The Responsibility of the Rich to the Poor

By their very nature, government programs are based on a "take from the rich and give to the common" concept. Federal income taxes are progressive. That is, people who earn more have a higher proportion of their money taken away in taxes than those who make less. Some countries have high inheritance taxes that deter people from passing wealth from generation to generation. These devices make more wealthy people bear the cost of supporting the poor.

To what extent do you think those who work hard and make a good living have a responsibility to lift and help people experiencing poverty? Support your answer.

*Both Poverty and the Depression and The War on Poverty were used to, in a sense, force students to analyze a situation and then select the best solution (based on what is given). In the case of Poverty and Depression, this lesson was used when I taught the unit titled The Great Depression Begins. The lesson titled The War on Poverty, called Johnson Tries to Build a Great Society, was utilized in the section of Chapter 32. I provide you with such detail with the lesson thus far to prove a point – such a lesson plan is an EXCELLENT way to reinforce material used in the traditional textbook curriculum. This validates the mission for this class – writing supplemental lessons for classroom textbooks. Please begin thinking about what unit or, more importantly, units you find most appealing. Doing so will only be a blessing later in the semester!

Readings and Guiding Questions:

Please read or listen to the following material in the order provided. To help one better reflect on each reading, questions may accompany each article/book chapter or webcast. These questions are to help one better understand the material. They are not required to be submitted for review unless marked otherwise.

Taboo Topics: Cultural Restraint on Teaching Social Issues . This article is an excellent reference regarding the attempt to build a rationale for teaching social issues. This article argues that traditional classrooms both operate and reinforce the status quo with little deviation from the "safe" curriculum. Consider the following 2007 position by The National Council for Social Studies on the use of controversial issues:

Controversial issues must be studied in the classroom without assuming that they are settled in advance or that there is only one correct answer in dispute matters. The social studies teacher must approach such issues in a spirit of critical inquiry, exposing the students to various ideas, even if they differ from their own (NCSS, 2007).

Furthermore, NCSS explained that "The study of controversial issues should develop the following skills and attitudes :

1. The ability to consider relevant social problems of the past or present and make informed decisions or conclusions;

2. The ability to use critical reasoning and evidence-based evaluation in the study and analysis of significant issues and ideas; this includes the development of skills of critical analysis and assessment in considering ideas, opinions, information, and sources of information;

3. The recognition that differing viewpoints are valuable and standard as a part of social discourse;

4. The recognition that reasonable compromise is often essential to democratic decision-making " (NCSS, 2007).

Nonetheless, many social studies teachers neglect teaching controversial issues through discussion and interaction due to the lack of classroom control, school/district policy, and discomfort in students openly discussing and debating the issues. Why is this case? The optional reading is a recent survey on this very topic. I encourage you to examine the article and decide if the results found in this study would possibly mirror the faculty in your department!

When reading these articles, answer the following questions:

1. Do you agree with the "primitive mentality" argument?

2. Do you believe that controversial issues need to be discussed in promoting and developing students in the democratic decision-making process?

3. Which has more significance: taboo discussion at the individual or societal level?

Hitler Must Be Killed. One of several books/pamphlets from the Harvard Social Studies Project designed to promote discussion, this reading provides insight into the thinking/designing of values curriculum. As you read this dated (in choice or words) pamphlet, you will discover the signature goal of the HSSP: there are no ready-made, correct, or wrong answers to social problems. You will notice, after the moral dilemma of Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer there are, persisting issues or questions. After reading this pamphlet, answer the following questions:

1. What, in your opinion, makes this moral dilemma challenging?

2. After reading the story, what would you consider the most difficult to decide?


1. Online Web Discussion – Read each of the questions below.  After doing so, select all questions to focus your discussion.  Please make one thoughtful, original posting (a direct response to your chosen question) and at least one thoughtful response to a classmate's posting. 

Original Student Response is due by Thursday, 8 February, at 11:59 p.m.

Response to a peer(s) is due by Monday, 12 February, no later than 7:00 a.m.

Discussion Question #1: Which has more significance: taboo discussion at the individual or societal level? Why do you believe this is the case?

Discussion Question #2: After reading the dilemmas of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, what decision would you make and justify in the killing of Adolf Hitler.