I would love to be teaching history or social studies. Particularly with a little freedom from standards and lesson plans. Today for instance, I'd start with this news story:
Kosovo Breaks Away: Province declares itself sovereign; Serbia says it's illegal
Kosovo's regional parliament declared independence Sunday, a much anticipated break with Serbia that swiftly triggered an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council.
The vote during a special session of parliament — boycotted by 11 Serb members but approved unanimously by the 109 other members — set Kosovo on a road to be recognized as the world's youngest nation.
By dusk, this icy-cold city turned into a giant street party, its skies twinkling with fireworks and its main streets filled with families strolling in wonder and youth dancing with joy."Now we have our flag and our state," said Minire Deliu, whose 12- and 7-year-old sons twirled to the beat of folk music in the open air. "During war, my children cried. Now they are dancing."Serbia promptly called the declaration by its southernmost province illegal. Thanks to the Sun Sentinel for this article excerpt.
I would start the discussion by asking how people might feel if they were part of such an effort. Why would they do it? What would they expect to happen? How will Serbia react? Eventually, we'd compare all these questions with what happened when the US declared it's independence. I'd have the kids research whether Kosova had their own declaration of independence. I'd compare it with others. Will there be a war of indepence afterwards? Or should we call it a civil war? What would decide whether it will be a civil war or war of independence?
Like I said, textbooks only get in the way. History needs to be alive and vivid to be worth studying. I have no idea how comparable this declaration of independence is to the American declaration of independence or the Succession by the South from the Union. But, give me a classroom of kids and I'm surely we could learn more from asking, researching, and debating the questions than we could from any of the textbooks.
I wonder if this would work online? That's one of my projects for this year. Want to help?