I'm teaching a class on "The Unknown History of WWII", any suggestions?

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I'm teaching a class on "The Unknown History of WWII", any suggestions?

Joined: February 28th, 2005, 5:19 am

November 9th, 2011, 4:43 pm #1

It's for 7-10 graders, so will assume they don't know nuthin' about the war except for bad movies; anyway, beyond dry facts & figures to teach history, I'm trying to picque their interest by including things like the proposed Habakkuk "iceberg" aircraft carrier, DD tanks, Maus, Minenraumer, Bat Bomb, "chivalry" in North Africa, "Hitler slept late", TV and radio guided bombs, Home Front scrap drives, Project Aphrodite, Project Himmler (dressing germans in polish uniforms and raiding german points Aug. 31, 1939), various desert and D-Day deceptions & camouflage. Going to mention war crime-ish things like Unit 731, but it might be too gruesome and un-PC to include prisoner experiments.
Class projects will be to either build a tank or aircraft and explain it's markings in context, experiment with camouflaging something at school, or interview/research a family member about the war.

Any favorites of yours that don't make into the history books? I'll gladly steal good ideas...
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Joined: December 30th, 2007, 5:13 pm

November 9th, 2011, 4:51 pm #2

My favourite, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Pigeon , so mad it might have worked!

jh
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Joined: March 19th, 2007, 9:06 am

November 9th, 2011, 5:42 pm #3

It's for 7-10 graders, so will assume they don't know nuthin' about the war except for bad movies; anyway, beyond dry facts & figures to teach history, I'm trying to picque their interest by including things like the proposed Habakkuk "iceberg" aircraft carrier, DD tanks, Maus, Minenraumer, Bat Bomb, "chivalry" in North Africa, "Hitler slept late", TV and radio guided bombs, Home Front scrap drives, Project Aphrodite, Project Himmler (dressing germans in polish uniforms and raiding german points Aug. 31, 1939), various desert and D-Day deceptions & camouflage. Going to mention war crime-ish things like Unit 731, but it might be too gruesome and un-PC to include prisoner experiments.
Class projects will be to either build a tank or aircraft and explain it's markings in context, experiment with camouflaging something at school, or interview/research a family member about the war.

Any favorites of yours that don't make into the history books? I'll gladly steal good ideas...
If they don't know anything I'd start with a history lesson on what lead up to WWII and who the combatants were, there's a lot of even adults who have no idea who actually fought or what sides(if any) they were on in WWII these days.
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Joined: December 28th, 2004, 3:59 pm

November 9th, 2011, 7:04 pm #4

It's for 7-10 graders, so will assume they don't know nuthin' about the war except for bad movies; anyway, beyond dry facts & figures to teach history, I'm trying to picque their interest by including things like the proposed Habakkuk "iceberg" aircraft carrier, DD tanks, Maus, Minenraumer, Bat Bomb, "chivalry" in North Africa, "Hitler slept late", TV and radio guided bombs, Home Front scrap drives, Project Aphrodite, Project Himmler (dressing germans in polish uniforms and raiding german points Aug. 31, 1939), various desert and D-Day deceptions & camouflage. Going to mention war crime-ish things like Unit 731, but it might be too gruesome and un-PC to include prisoner experiments.
Class projects will be to either build a tank or aircraft and explain it's markings in context, experiment with camouflaging something at school, or interview/research a family member about the war.

Any favorites of yours that don't make into the history books? I'll gladly steal good ideas...
Last months BBC History magazine had a fascinating article on the untold WW2, written by Max Hastings from items taken from his new book. It included a photo of an elephant being used to clear air raid debris from the streets of Hamburg and a lot of very interesting factoids and statistics. Definately worth a look;
http://www.historyextra.com/index-searc ... 05&yr=6572

http://www.amazon.co.uk/All-Hell-Let-Lo ... 334&sr=1-1


good luck!!!
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Joined: August 12th, 2001, 3:19 am

November 9th, 2011, 7:15 pm #5

....you'd have enough material for several courses. Tito's Partisans, Warsaw Ghetto Uprising as well as the 1944 AK Warsaw Uprising, the Czechoslovakian Resistance taking out Heydrich and the retaliation to the town of Lidice that followed are all interesting topics that are hardly covered in general histories. Although it is the best photographed/filmed/written about five years of history there are so many areas that don't get the attention they deserve.

You may want to get a copy of Norman Davies "Europe at War 19391945: No Simple Victory." Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-69285-3 which has a lot of good info and has the gears turning in one's head, even if they're a WWII buff. Then there's the impact of the war on Asia.

Good luck to you Tom, I'm sure you'll do quite well and I hope those kids realize how lucky they will be when the course concludes.

HTH, MK
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Joined: September 21st, 2001, 12:15 pm

November 9th, 2011, 7:16 pm #6

My favourite, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Pigeon , so mad it might have worked!

jh
History Channel with Girlfriend one night and saw this show that talked about failed or crazy weapons systems and they spoke about the Pigeon guided bomb...and she heard Mr. Skinners name and perked up...then goes on to tell me the guy was the father of applied behavior and his works are used in diagnosing children with behavior issues and Autism, which is the field of work she is in.

Peter Griffin: Any problem caused by a tank can be solved by a tank.
Peter Griffin: Any problem caused by a tank can be solved by a tank.
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Joined: May 26th, 2004, 5:32 pm

November 9th, 2011, 7:17 pm #7

It's for 7-10 graders, so will assume they don't know nuthin' about the war except for bad movies; anyway, beyond dry facts & figures to teach history, I'm trying to picque their interest by including things like the proposed Habakkuk "iceberg" aircraft carrier, DD tanks, Maus, Minenraumer, Bat Bomb, "chivalry" in North Africa, "Hitler slept late", TV and radio guided bombs, Home Front scrap drives, Project Aphrodite, Project Himmler (dressing germans in polish uniforms and raiding german points Aug. 31, 1939), various desert and D-Day deceptions & camouflage. Going to mention war crime-ish things like Unit 731, but it might be too gruesome and un-PC to include prisoner experiments.
Class projects will be to either build a tank or aircraft and explain it's markings in context, experiment with camouflaging something at school, or interview/research a family member about the war.

Any favorites of yours that don't make into the history books? I'll gladly steal good ideas...
...that it was a time when a lot of fascinating inventions were tried, which really demeans the experiences of those involved.

The things that really matter, in my opinion, are:

- Global extent of the war. What populations were affected. Mark them on a map.

- Duration. The war began even before 1939, with German involvement in Spain, and the Japanese invasion of China.

- Technology. Yes, a lot of new things were invented for the military, but I think the devices that really mattered to WW2 were newsreel, radio, and telephone. Governments had all these things; civil populations did not, and they had not developed immunity to their effects. They were not inclined to disbelieve the "official line" as we are today. Anti-war movements were embryonic and ill equipped. Political correctness was not invented. Kids who are used to the possibility of posting a crap song in Youtube and becoming a star, should imagine what it's like when your local cinema shows newsreels portraying your race as evil subhumans. What can you do about it? Make them think. Sadly, the correct answer is 'emigrate'.


David
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Joined: February 22nd, 2001, 4:07 am

November 9th, 2011, 7:32 pm #8

I agree w/David's note to not WOW the students with just the technologies. Plz emphasize the enormity of the loss of human life during those dark years -- starting with China, Ethiopia, and others even before the larger conflicts. What percentage of the Soviet population was the dead 20 million? How would that relate to the US population today? There have been +5000 servicemen and women killed in Iraq & Afghanistan.

Roy Chow
AMPS 1st Vice President
http://www.amps-armor.org
Roy Chow
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Joined: May 11th, 2005, 3:10 pm

November 9th, 2011, 10:02 pm #9

It's for 7-10 graders, so will assume they don't know nuthin' about the war except for bad movies; anyway, beyond dry facts & figures to teach history, I'm trying to picque their interest by including things like the proposed Habakkuk "iceberg" aircraft carrier, DD tanks, Maus, Minenraumer, Bat Bomb, "chivalry" in North Africa, "Hitler slept late", TV and radio guided bombs, Home Front scrap drives, Project Aphrodite, Project Himmler (dressing germans in polish uniforms and raiding german points Aug. 31, 1939), various desert and D-Day deceptions & camouflage. Going to mention war crime-ish things like Unit 731, but it might be too gruesome and un-PC to include prisoner experiments.
Class projects will be to either build a tank or aircraft and explain it's markings in context, experiment with camouflaging something at school, or interview/research a family member about the war.

Any favorites of yours that don't make into the history books? I'll gladly steal good ideas...
Tom,
Talk about the U.S. code breaking against Japan (before WW2) and how the U.S. government tracked the Jap fleet across the Pacific. Talk about the list of things that would REQUIRE Japan to go to war with the U.S. (fortify the Phillipines, embargo oil, etc). Recognize that the war with Japan was over China and that FDR had wanted to go to war with Japan in 1911. Talk about the people and personalities involved and make the leaders human who had fear, hopes, dreams, etc. Yes, it sounds all touchy feely, but knowing about where someone was coming from made their actions (or inactions) understandable.
In ETO, the loss of the first enigma machine in Poland (and its subsequent smuggling to England), Hilter's look-alikes and the thread-bare nature of Nazi Germany in 1939 (thus making WW2 the biggest smash-n-grab in history). Talk about the volkswagen and its intended use for the German colonists in Russia (after they disposed of the indigenous population). Also, put things like the current video games of "Brothers in Arms" etc into some form of context. Who knows, it might help. Just my 2 cents.
Regards,
Georg
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Joined: June 22nd, 2009, 2:20 am

November 10th, 2011, 12:36 am #10

...that it was a time when a lot of fascinating inventions were tried, which really demeans the experiences of those involved.

The things that really matter, in my opinion, are:

- Global extent of the war. What populations were affected. Mark them on a map.

- Duration. The war began even before 1939, with German involvement in Spain, and the Japanese invasion of China.

- Technology. Yes, a lot of new things were invented for the military, but I think the devices that really mattered to WW2 were newsreel, radio, and telephone. Governments had all these things; civil populations did not, and they had not developed immunity to their effects. They were not inclined to disbelieve the "official line" as we are today. Anti-war movements were embryonic and ill equipped. Political correctness was not invented. Kids who are used to the possibility of posting a crap song in Youtube and becoming a star, should imagine what it's like when your local cinema shows newsreels portraying your race as evil subhumans. What can you do about it? Make them think. Sadly, the correct answer is 'emigrate'.


David
In teaching a class of 13-16 year olds, you have to keep them interested. If they are interested in the topic, they will do further research. If you throw a bunch of (what they see as useless) facts at them, they will shut down and you will lose them. I think you are on the right track, keep them interested and teach them something at the same time.

I personally think that any knowledge is better than none. If you do the entire class on how bad the war was and throw statistics at them, they won't remember a thing.
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