Sunday, 29 January 2012

Eighth Grade Project on Immigration to the United States

The link I have chosen to analyse is for a Social Studies research project undertaken by eighth graders in Wisconsin, intended to teach them about the history of migration to the United States of America.

First of all, there is a noticeable emphasis made on understanding the various contributions immigrants have made to American culture, and upon recognising that some immigrants (African-Americans in particular) were brought there by force. Although this is a Social Studies project, the instigating teacher clearly wishes to involve other subjects so as to make the project more creative, and therefore a more interdisciplinary subject which can be taught in a variety of 'innovative' ways.

Using such techniques as creative writing and intergenerational studies, the teacher has students create a family tree in order for all American children to understand their genealogy, and that essentially all Americans are immigrants in some form. Interestingly, the school recognises that their 'students' ethnic past is primarily limited to Scandinavian and Central European immigration' and wishes to involve other schools in order to broaden the students understanding of just how vast the origins of American ethnicity are.

The project encompasses 'collaborative research' as well as 'independent research,' tailoring for children that learn in a variety of different ways, and their general aim appears to be 'To gain a thorough understanding of the history of immigration to the United States' as well as a local history, though they accept the limitations of their local history being restricted to specific origins.

The general theories behind the project appear admirable - they want the students to understand the hardships faced by the immigrants, but also the troubles American citizens faced when confronted with such a high volume of immigrants over the years. The students are taught the reasons behind immigration, are allowed to develop a healthy awareness of cultural diversity, and are encouraged to perceive the important contributions the immigrants made; then use this understanding toward understanding their own family and community, and contributions made by individuals therein.

I think this bespoke a very American attitude by developing early diplomatic views on ethnicity, and encouraging a spirit of community by learning the value of each individual. It is clear they want to encourage a positive image of immigration and a deeper understanding of its effects throughout the years. This allows the next generation to grow up with an understanding of their history (something of high importance to Americans who have little enough of one) and an appreciation for an identity within a community (something else we have discovered is very important to Americans.)

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