Part II: Gold, Greed and Government (continued)

School/Home Connection

Because this unit deals directly with historical incidents of prejudice and intolerance, as well as of compassion and empathy, teachers may want to send a letter home to parents at the beginning of the unit. Teachers are encouraged to copy parts of this introduction to attach to the letter. 

Controversial Issues

History without controversy is not good history, nor is such history as interesting to students as an account that captures the debates of the times...Through the study of controversial issues, both in history and in current affairs, students should learn that people in a democratic society have the right to disagree, that different perspectives have to be taken into account, and that judgments should be based on reasonable evidence and not on bias and emotion." (California History-Social Science Framework, 1988) 

This unit contains substantial historical information and multiple perspectives. Some information is controversial and subject to debate. While teaching this unit, we encourage discussions on controversial issues. However, since student debates may be emotionally charged, please keep in mind the following considerations. 

Planned discussions on controversial issues provide for constructive learning experiences. Teachers should lead students to express opinions on both sides of any question. Students' thinking will be stimulated when the teacher points out different perspectives of an unpopular position. Students need to understand the teacher's purpose in raising questions or making comments regarding an unpopular cause. 

Objectives in studying controversial issues include: 

    a. to improve ability to discriminate between fact and opinion. 
    b. to increase skill in critical thinking. 
    c. to develop ability to identify propaganda techniques,  including questioning sources of information.
    d. to provide insight into the source of one's own bias as well as of others. 
    e. to instill a deeper understanding of American ideals and institutions.
Adapted from: Project Inclusion, published by San Diego City Schools. 
Part II, Overview 
Page 5