Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ms. Frizzle Taking It Way Back

With our teacher out of town, our class was left on our own to move forward with the unit of "Protecting a Nation". This week we focused on Andrew Jackson and his impact in the United States.

     Andrew Jackson was America's seventh president, his term lasting from 1829 to 1837. Other than showing up on the twenty dollar bill, Jackson influenced America quite a bit. He was often known as the "people's president"; however it was up to our class to decide if he actually deserved this title. Jackson had his own opinions and usually asserted them into place. He didn't support the power of the bank, had no concern for the Native Americans, and reintroduced the spoils system. From analyzing these three situations Jackson was involved in, we were able to deduce Jackson's true nature.
The bank war was basically a large conflict between the rich stockholders, who had an advantage at the bank, and the middle class and lower, who didn't have much power and was supported by Jackson. Jackson didn't approve of the concentration of the rich power in the banks- his choice angered the rich, and assumed Jackson was a monarch who didn't want anything good for his country. Due to his power, Jackson was able to shut down the Second Bank of America.
Jackson's involvement in Indian removal changed his reputation, as well. Jackson forced Native Americans to leave their home land and head out west. Jackson made himself look good by promising similar rights and resources the Natives had in the East. He showed no concern for the Indians and wished to get rid of them.
The Spoils System was reintroduced by Jackson, overriding the original merit system. Qualification for government jobs was not based on merit but on loyalty. The system works when a president, or someone who is trying to gain votes from people, promises job positions in the government if they vote for them as an incentive. Many accused the use of this system as a way of firing all government officials. Jackson tended to give positions to many, but a few took advantage of the job- in one case where someone stole huge amounts of money.
Our class was split into six groups, and the three topics were divided evenly amongst the class. We were given documents based on our situation and were instructed to create any sort of presentation to share the information with the whole class. My group was assigned to learn about the Bank War, and then create a skit. Our skit was magic school bus theme. So this required Ms. Frizzle to go back in time on the magic school bus to the 1830s to enlighten our class about the Bank War. The link of our script is below, and don't forget to play the theme song while reading!

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-0MpLOpT0jjLh_sWXNdxCM9V9OIf2P5SI_GYgx16DpY/edit?usp=sharing

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

How Democratic Was US's Democracy?

Currently in the eminent class of Honors History 10, we have been learning about democracy and its impact on the United States in the early 1800s. 
     In order to find how democratic the United States was at the time, my group and I started by defining the term democracy, itself. We then analyzed two primary sources, quotes by Benjamin Franklin and Norton Townshend, and a source on the Dorr War; from this we deduced the situation of the US. Other secondary sources were used, as well- two data voting charts and the County Election painting by George Caleb Bingham. The information collected from these sources were connected to answer the main concept of democracy in US during the early 1800s. My group and I then put together a glog, an online poster, using glogster, to display our analysis and conclusion.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Journey of a Successful Leader

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/32/
G%C3%A9n%C3%A9ral_Toussaint_Louverture.jpg
Leaders are necessary everywhere in society; we have political leaders, social leaders, economic leaders, community leaders, and many more. But there are specific qualities that defines someone a successful leader. There are several traits that are crucial and some that are irrelevant but could aid one’s persona, such as eloquence, compassion, toughness, and humor. These, however, cannot surpass attributes such as political skill, moral leadership, and honesty. It is rare that leaders possess these strong qualities. Toussaint Louverture was born on the western half of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, Saint Domingue, also known as Haiti. Louverture lived during the time of the Haitian revolt, and as they fought hard for their freedom, he emerged as a leader. Saint Domingue was an economically valuable colony due to its plantations, and ended up in France’s control. The majority of the Haitian population was turned into slaves, and treated harshly. Upon hearing the news of the successful French Revolution, the slaves began their revolts for freedom. It was Louverture who took up the initiative to lead the Haitians to fight for their rights. Toussaint Louverture was a well accomplished person and should be remembered as the liberator of slaves, a military commander, and the ruler of Saint Domingue.
Toussaint Louverture was an exceptional leader for the slaves of Haiti, and should be widely known for this accomplishment. Toussaint took part in the slave revolt in 1791 by serving as a doctor, and commanding a small group of slaves (Doc A). It then took a few years for him to build up his reputation and spread his influence all around Saint Domingue. He strongly advocated for the freedom of all slaves from the French. When the revolutionary government in France under Robespierre abolished slavery in France in all its colonies, Toussaint and his troops stopped their revolt and supported the French, in 1794. (Doc A) When the French Directory replaced the revolutionary government in 1797, Louverture feared for the reinstatement of slavery. In order to respond to this possible act Louverture wrote a letter addressed to the French Directory. In it he evidently doesn’t support the Directory’s decision and tries to dissuade their opinion. He closes his letter with a threat to the Directory, driving his point home: “We have known how to confront danger to our liberty, and we will know how to confront death to preserve it.” (Doc B) Louverture seems devoted and dedicated throughout his letter to the Directory, showing his commitment to freeing the enslaved. Louverture’s successful work as a liberator of slaves led him to assemble and head the commission that created Saint Domingue’s Constitution of 1801. The document proudly declares that “All men are born, live and die free and French.” (Doc C) This statement leads to the conclusion that all men, including the enslaved, are equal and should be given identical rights; the constitution claimed all citizens of Saint Domingue were free. Louverture’s strong ambition for emancipation in Saint Domingue is the reason why he should be remembered as a liberator of slaves.
Along with the role of an abolitionist, Louverture was a notable ruler of Saint Domingue and should be commemorated for his duty. After Louverture defeated the British, he was appointed ruler of Saint Domingue in 1798. In Saint Domingue’s Constitution of 1801, Louverture takes his role as the ruler and authors a constitution that states several rights of the citizens, including rules for the plantation owners, cultivators, and agricultural laws. The constitution promises the abolishment of servitude forever and freedom for everyone. It encourages agricultural work, since the economy of Saint Domingue strongly depends on it. (Doc C) Louverture took the initiative and created articles that satisfy the people and the French government. The citizens of Saint Domingue trusted Louverture, as well- “The Constitution nominate citizen Toussaint-Louverture...the direction thereof for the remainder of his glorious life.” (Doc C) His efforts as a liberator of slaves paid off, and people thought he was credible enough to be their leader. Four months after his nomination, Toussaint authored the Proclamation in November 25, 1801. In this document, he sets harsh punishments for anyone who breaks rules- “Vagabond cultivators arrested...shall be taken to the commander of the quarter, who will have them sent to the gendarmerie [local police]...” (Doc D) This excerpt shows that even the honorable Toussaint can be strict and controlling when it comes to looking after his people. His rule was slightly stern but he remembered to keep his people happy, which is why Toussaint should be remembered as the ruler of Saint Domingue.
However, Louverture’s rule started getting more and more harsh, and he turned into a military commander. Toussaint didn’t rule without resistance from the citizens of Saint Domingue, and he carried his rule to a large extent. Many people, including Louverture’s own nephew, believed that it Toussaint was wrong to support plantation farming. His nephew challenged Toussaint’s policies in agriculture and organized a rebellion. Plantation farming was similar to slavery and the citizens of Saint Domingue didn’t prefer that. His people started to distrust him as well- “...with Toussaint’s draconian [cruel] labor policy and gathering suspicion of his friendliness with the white planter class.” (Doc E) Toussaint’s nephew led a rebellion and Toussaint reacted harshly by having him arrested and executed. By 1802, Louverture was fighting against the French to earn Saint Domingue’s freedom. ‘...Toussaint, by his superior knowledge of the character of his race, his humanity, generosity, and courage, had gained the confidence of all whom he had under his command.” (Doc F) By this point, Louverture was successful as a military commander. He had the true characteristics of a army general and led strong troops to fight the French in Samana. Louverture’s ambitions and hard work resulted to his achievements as a military commander.
Although Toussaint Louverture should be remembered as liberator of slaves, military commander, and ruler of Saint Domingue, he was most successful as a liberator of slaves because he led one of the most efficacious slave revolts in history. It was because of his efforts as an abolitionist, the citizens of Saint Domingue trusted him as their leader. However, his new power corrupted him and his rule turned to a military dictatorship. Louverture was the most successful leading the former slaves to revolt against the French.  Even though he didn't live to see Saint Domingue earn it’s freedom, it was because of Toussaint Louverture’s influence on the former slaves that they fought for their rights and privileges.

Friday, November 21, 2014

We Are Who We Are

This week our class jumped right into the loop of revolutionary revolts in Latin America. Compared to the European revolutions the majority of the Latin American revolutions were based on race, color, and social status, which was disappointing to find out. 

     Racism, unfortunately, is still a problem in society today, and it's appalling to see how the game was different in the 1800s. It is essential to acknowledge human value regardless of race. Back in the early 19th century, almost every conflict caused was due to racial or social differences. The case of a superior class/race gaining control over a less "worthy" class/race was the norm, and was considered right. What wasn't the norm, however, was the thought that everyone who was affected by the consequences of such conflicts had feelings and opinions, too. To see and example of how these situations impacted several races, my history class studied the Latin American revolutions for independence.

We started off by learning the social structure, from the peninsulares, creoles, and mestizos, to the mulattoes, slaves, and Indian people. Our class then split up into three big groups and became experts on one of the following revolutions that took place in Gran Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico. After making timelines and reading about the events that took place, we made smaller groups with experts from all three revolutions and taught each other. Finally, we found commonalities and differences of all the revolutions, along with recognizing the main reason of the revolution- racial and social differences.
     I was assigned to learn all about Gran Colombia, now Ecuador and Venezuela. After reading the documents given, we compiled the following timeline of all the events that took place:

Made using: http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/interactives/timeline_2/

Once the timeline of the Gran Colombia revolution was made we shared it with the other two groups. After gaining knowledge of the other two revolutions, we compared and contrasted the motives of the people. All three revolutions took different routes to gain their independence, but they all ended up successfully breaking their connections with rulers from Europe. Once they were free, they went on their separate ways and used different styles of government. However, in all three cases, it is hard to deny that the motive of the rebels was not due to their social standing and racial backgrounds. The revolts were almost always creoles, mestizos, and mulattoes going against and overthrowing the minority of peninsulares from Europe. In some cases, imperial taxes were unnecessary, while in others a new constitution with improved rights was wanted. But racial background were an issue and the main motive behind all three revolutions. 
     Even though human kind has come a long way trying to avoid slippery racial situations, problems still exist. Of course there aren't hundreds of people forming armies and warring their so-called superiors, but the fight for equal rights is quiet and brewing underneath. Many try and cover these racial stereotypes while some can't help but pick up on them and make a humongous deal. There are still several issues that go on in the real world today; take the Ferguson case, for example. Let's not get into further detail, but the point is clear- race has impacted the world and will continue to do so until we do not consider the issue and try and overcome several theories of society. It isn't easy to eradicate future racial situations, but at least we can help by understanding and accepting people for who they are, then possibly this issue could improve for the generations yet to come.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Melancholy Revolts

This week we learned about the revolution uproar that took place in 1830 and 1848 all through Europe. Our history class placed ourselves in the roles of historians and were made to conclude whether these revolution were successes or failures.

Whenever I think of word revolution I think of a bunch of angry people who want bread and money from the snobbish kings, and that's basically what the motive of the many revolutions that took in 1830 and 1848. Many historians have concluded that these social uprisings were failures, however, my class dwelt in deeper and examined each revolution to make our own decision. The revolutions that we focused on was the- Decembrist Revolt, France Revolts of 1830 and 1848, the revolt of the Frankfurt Assembly, and the Hungary revolt. Before we began our mission, we had to create a scale of success and failure, and determine the traits of each category. We were then put into small groups and given a revolution to focus on. We were to create a quiz of about 10-11 questions on our revolution using SurveyMonkey. Then using the survey we were to decide the success/failure of each revolution.
My group was assigned to the 1825 Decembrist Revolt. Using a document with primary sources and basic facts, we began to chart the basics, and then find evidence from the primary source documents to determine position of the revolution on the scale of success. The Decembrist Revolt took place in Russia during the December of 1825. The confusion over the succession of Tsar Alexander I's throne led to the revolt. The people wished for a new constitution and thought that by having Constantine, Alexander's younger brother, on the throne, they would have a better chance of granting it. However, Nicholas I, Alexander's other brother, took over the throne, and refused to give more rights to his people. In fact, Tsar Nicholas I shut down communication with all of Europe, and didn't give any freedom at all. According to Marquis de Astolphe Custine, "...the conduct of the Emperor [Nicholas I] in forbidding his subjects to travel, and in rendering access to his own country difficult to foreigners." Russia became an autocratic nation, and the caste system was strictly enforced. Nicholas I was quite harsh while enforcing these decrees; during his conversation with a French ambassador he says: "The law demands retribution and, in their cases, I will not use my power to grant mercy. I will be unbending; it is my duty to give this lesson to Russia and to Europe." Nicholas I gives the exact opposite of what his people hoped for. It is quite obvious to conclude that the outcome of this revolt was a complete failure, in that the rebels landed in a situation worse than before.
On the other hand, our SurveyMonkey  succeeded and resulted in not too many wrong responses. After analyzing the results of our quiz, we found out that our classmates "fully understood" the topic of the Decembrist Revolution:

After taking the survey on the other revolts, our class was ready to agree with the historians to conclude that all the revolts were on the failure side of the scale. The Decembrist Revolt resulted in the worst outcome compared to the others, with the dictatorship of Tsar Nicholas. While the French Revolutions of 1830 resulted in a constitutional monarchy of Louis-Philippe, it did get de-throne Charles X. The Hungarian Revolution on the other hand did get temporary results by the Austrian government ending serfdom and writing a constitution to protect basic rights; unfortunately, with the help of the Russian troops, the Austrian rebels were crushed, and all was lost. 
The flurry of revolts that took place in 1830 and 1848 were not quite successful, yet it shows us that the people were not happy with their country and wished for change; sadly, reform and change in Europe took a while.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Preparing for Mutiny

This week our class was introduced to the Congress of Vienna, a conference with the ambassadors of the European states. Their main goal was to restore the chaotic borders Napoleon left behind after his grand vanquish.
The One and Only Congress of Vienna
http://www.aksitarih.com/history-of-ahmet-cevdet-vienna-congress.html
     In history class we learned Napoleon was quite the party pooper in Europe, leaving many distressed by the it's state. The citizens just wanted their rights, while the ones in power felt threatened by Napoleon. So in order to seek vengeance, on September 1, 1814, representatives from Russia, Austria, Prussia, Britain, and France, came together to defeat the threat of Napoleon. Their goal was to reconstruct the countries that were under Napoleon's rule. (You can learn all about Napoleon from my blog) Before we got started my class and I got a little overview of the situation Europe was in by watching a dramatized film excerpt (attached below) of a meeting between Napoleon and Klemens von Metternich, the statesman of Austria. We saw how rough their relationship was and it set the mood for the next activity- making decisions for the Congress of Vienna.
     To make us understand the situation Europe was in at the time, our history teacher gave us the three dilemmas the Congress faced. Our job was to predict and choose Metternich's decision (considering the fact that he was a conservative).
Europe was well aware of the chaos that was brewing, and the Quintuple Alliance (the Congress) wished to prepare for the possibility of future revolutions. France was well known for their revolts which impacted most of Europe; the revolutions caused decades of war, leaving towns and countries devastated, and leaders killed or removed. The ideas of revolt and fight for rights spread quickly through Europe, and the Congress were willing to take the chance of helping each other out to stop chaos. The Alliance introduced the 'Principle of Intervention', the ideology that gave the great powers the right to send troops into a country to stop revolution and restore monarchs. England, however, refused to take part in the intervention. This principle came in handy and "saved" several revolts, such as the Italian uprising in the 1820s.
     The representatives at the Congress were not necessarily best suited for their duty and were not in their country's best interest; their mood and nature was described as "sparkly chaos", that should pretty much say it all. I feel as if the monarchs were too dominating and did not allow enough, let alone any at all, freedom for their people. I'm not surprised that so many countries revolted against those bossy snobs. One of the options for to prepare for future revolutions was the following:
"Recognizing on the basis of enlightened reason that wars and revolutions bring chaos and disorder, 
the monarchs will act with more benevolence toward their peoples in the hope of quelling revolutionary ideas. European leaders will support religious toleration and greater freedom of speech. They will also develop and support the arts, sciences and education."
That is what people wanted; the powerful "leaders" should have been willing to sacrifice some of their power to make their people happy. I think if the Congress had thought more, and made a wise, and selfless, decision the people of Europe would have been pleased.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ideological Show Downs

As we launch into our new unit on Atlantic Revolutions, we briefly touched upon the three main ideologies of the 19th century to help us understand the thoughts and actions people took during that time.
     Ideologies is a term that I haven't heard in a while, since people, nowadays, have such a variety of thoughts and opinions they can fall into any major political ideology category: conservatism, liberalism, and nationalism. These three ideologies were particularly popular in the 19th century, and they influenced social and political actions, at the time. In order to understand the meaning of these terms my history class went through the ideology show down. We began by finding out what ideology means (a system of ideas that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy). After looking up their "modern definitions", our class was split eight groups; two groups focusing on one topic. After reading a quick article on our given ideology, we went straight to work. We were to go against our opposing group and create a minute video/skit that would describe the ideology while entertaining the class. Yes, it was a tough task- trying to keep our class awake while talking about 19th century principles, but it was worth it, since my group won!
    My group was assigned to define and explain conservatism, which is overall a system where traditional values are accepted and put in place. So basically, it is filled with a bunch of stingy people who don't want to try anything new. Conservatives (not conservatists) came from the traditional elite aristocracy. They supported a class system dominated by aristocracy, monarchy, and the church. They opposed to innovation and reform, and used the French Revolution as an example of a chaotic and unsuccessful reform. Edmund Burke and Joseph de Maistre were popular conservatives who wrote books expressing their ideas opposing constitutionalism and revolution. While discussing how to start our video, we realized how ridiculous Edmund Burke looked with his fancy wig. So we decided why not use this unfortunate hair accessory and make a video of him enlightening our class on conservatism. We used the app, Chatter Prix, and created two 30 second clips on how wise words on conservatism.
Our video gives a brief definition of conservatism and lists a few examples of their traditional values, such as the opposition of revolutions. Conservatives prefer the monarchy as a political power, and the aristocrats at the top of the social ladder, to keep things “traditional”.
     After our glorious win, we viewed the other projects on nationalism and liberalism. After having a laugh, it was time to take our notes. We learned that liberalism, obeying it’s liberty prefix, is a system of government that is based on freedom, rights, and merit rather than traditional values. Even though they restricted the power of the church, they did not get rid of social classes. On the other hand, nationalism is the idea that people should unite based on similar traditions and beliefs, and go against a common enemy. Italy, for example, was once a group of separate states whose common enemy was Germany. They then realized that their disunity was what was bringing them down, therefore, they came together as a nation and defeated their enemy; so it’s basically teamwork and group effort.
These ideologies were interesting to learn and it helps us categorize the thoughts of all important leaders in history. So now thanks to this fun activity, we are able to predict the choices one can make based on their ideology.

Part I 

video

Part II

video


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How Napoleon Dynamite Impacted the World

A very dramatic picture of Napoleon
http://www.biography.com/people/napoleon-9420291
Finally, we've moved on from our first unit on the Industrial Revolution to the Atlantic Revolutions (yeah, we're keeping up with the revolutions of the world). Last week, we started our new unit by reviewing the renowned reign (or dictatorship) of Napoleon Bonaparte. We kick-started the class by watching a really, really short biography clip on Bonaparte (video below), and learned how his rule changed society.

     Whenever I hear the name Napoleon, I think of Napoleon Dynamite; just kidding I think of the Bonaparte one, like we're supposed to. Napoleon was probably well known for his "dictatorship" over a large span of Europe around the late 1700s to the early 1800s. Almost eighty percent of Europe was directly or indirectly under his control. I've always been taught that Napoleon was a mean, short yet intimidating man who decided to take control of the whole world. But in class, we learned that there were many who had mixed feelings for him. We read a few articles on the different opinions on Napoleon's rule, which I personally found really interesting. We looked at short articles/excerpts by Madame de Stael and Marshal Michel Ney, and an essay by Thomas J. Vance. Madame de Stael was generally opposed to Napoleon's impact on society, while Marshal Michel Ney, an army general favored Napoleon's rule. Thomas J. Vance authored an essay mentioning the various opinions of historians on Napoleon's impact on the world.

Madame de Stael states in her mini excerpt that Bonaparte's government was based on his "profound contempt for all the intellectual riches of human nature: virtue, dignity, religion, enthusiasm." Apparently, Napoleon regarded these 'intellectual riches' as "the eternal enemies of the continent." Stael thought that Napoleon's reign was basically a universal monarchy. Stael was predicted to be part of the nobility, who were strongly opposed to Napoleon's decisions that helped the poor. In her final argument she says, "His [Napoleon's] system was to encroach [intrude] daily upon France's liberty and Europe's independence...By altering between cunning and force he has subjugated [conquered] Europe."
Contradicting Stael's words, army general Marshal Michel Ney praises Napoleon's rule, in which "the times are gone when the the people were governed by suppressing their rights." He claims that "liberty triumphs in the end", with their "august emperor", Bonaparte. Ney as part of the army, obviously, benefited from Napoleon's military dictatorship, and preferred his rule.
Thomas J. Vance's essay titled The Lost Voices of Napoleonic Historians, nicely incorporates both the negative and positive thoughts on Napoleon's rule. Many viewed Bonaparte as a creative and intelligent military general, who would have brought good fame to his name if he hadn't become filled with excessive pride and greed-"...[he] would have been "regarded in the light of something heroic, and remembered...perhaps dangerously, fine...A great soldier, a great liberator, a great reformer and a great lawgiver....it was given to him to live for 18 years after this, and to work actively for 12...it must be confessed...as a usurper, a tyrant, and a greedy, egotistical and ambitious ruler..." Vance then lists Napoleon's great characteristics that were often unrecognized, summing them up by saying "He was the greatest genius of his time...perhaps of all time...that high wisdom born of reflection and introspection which knows its own powers and limitations..." Vance's work allows us to analyze Bonaparte's impact on most of the world from all perspectives.
    Overall, Napoleon's rule altered the social, economical, and political systems of Europe. He balanced France's budget by establishing the Bank of France. Also, in order to restore economic prosperity, he controlled prices, encouraged new industry, and undertook massive public works programs. However, he stole a great deal of money, wealth, and art from Italy. The political power of the Roman Catholic Church was significantly reduced, as well. All the countries he conquered had to follow his Napoleonic code, which included rules such as:
  • Freedom of religion
  • Eliminate birth rights
  • Introduced the meritocracy system
  • Only provide government jobs to those who qualify 
On a social standpoint, meritocracy was introduced, and it cleared all social titles. This change benefited the once poor and modern classes, naturally angering the nobility. Serfdom was eventually abolished, allowing more citizens to have rights to property, education, and qualified jobs.
     Napoleon Bonaparte is still recognized and praised for his exceptional intellect and strong ambition. His rule changed society, and perhaps the world, for both the better, and the worse; as we learn that Napoleon was viewed from different standpoints, we realize the once all-mighty ruler had his drawbacks, as well. His unique ideas helped him rise to the top, conquering almost the whole of Europe, making him one of the most extraordinary military leaders, and dictators, of all time (sadly, unlike Napoleon Dynamite).

Just a heads up, the video is really really short (only 60 seconds) with tons of information

Friday, October 10, 2014

Tasting Economic Chocolates

Welcome to a lesson on choconism, the study of economic and political system through the consumption of Hershey Kisses. This week in history class we got a sweet taste of capitalism, socialism, and communism through the perspectives of Karl Marx and Adam Smith's theories.
    My parents love talking "all things politically" and I never understood the term capitalism and socialism and communism. Well of course I thought communism means a community government, and socialism was a government which included a lot of social people, and capitalism was the rest of society, because I couldn't figure it out. But a couple days ago, I realized what they meant, through a little gamble with chocolate and rock, paper, scissors.
When my history teacher brought in a huge bag of Hershey Kisses, our whole class leapt in joy, and the excitement just increased when she started distributing it to class. Two chocolates for twenty four kids and eight chocolates for the remaining two. "Wait what!? Is Mrs. Gallagher showing favoritism??" Obviously us twenty four students were enraged at the other two kids who were sitting gleaming at their desks. After being instructed not to eat the chocolates (yes, it was sad), my history teacher told us that we could earn chocolates by beating other kids through a simple game of rock, paper, scissors; if you lose you have to give on up and if you win you earn one, and when you are left with zero you have sit down. Okay, so my stomach grumbled with joy, until I got out after five games! Slowly the seats were getting filled, and there were only five to six kids playing, with almost ten pieces (the two "favorited" kids were left with none). Once, everyone was settled, more than half of the class had no chocolates, while a few had a lot. Then comes our awesome government, my history teacher, and collects the chocolate of the others and redistributes it equally, two for everyone. Of course, the majority of the class was happy, except for the fact that our government was eating the bag of chocolates in front of us. She gave us a choice of playing, but almost everyone refused to play, and were happy with the equal amount of Kisses we had; so my teacher didn't have to supervise the candy distribution. And, finally, after the struggle, my class reached the economical standard of communism.

    Karl Marx, a German socialist, authored the Communist Manifesto, which introduces his three step process to achieve communism. Marx's theory of communism starts with capitalism, with everyone having some kind of private ownership of industry. People will then have a freedom of competition, allowing people to earn or lose money, which eventually resulted in class struggle and revolts from the proletariat (poor class). Marx then said, in lever to make things more fair, people would create a government system of socialism. The goal is to bring economic equality, so there will be a government ownership of industry, therefore leading in a classless society. Finally, Marx claims that the majority of people would not accept the possibility of sharp divisions between rich and poor any longer. By any means necessary, even violence, they would create communism, where the goal of a classless society is set. Eventually, this system will result in no government to distribute and supervise society. Marx thought if everyone was in the same rank as everyone else, then the poor would benefit, and be in a better position than they were before.(a quick video bio of Marx is below)
Adam Smith, a British social philosopher, published his theory on capitalism in his Invisible Hand. (yes, it does sounds shady) Smith introduced the ‘invisible hand’ theory that was proved to be more fair than Marx’s communism ideas. He said that if the government leaves private companies alone and allow them to buy and trade on their own, they will operate based on their own self interest . Over a period of time, after competing with others, the good businesses, that don't cheat customers and charge reasonably, will succeed and the bad businesses will fail; this way the economy will grow on it's own. The only downfall is that this process takes a long time, and while the economy to figure everything out there will be a lot of “stalling” and time wasted. So in order to speed things up, the government will be put to charge to avoid the stalls. The rich preferred this system because they got a choice to go into business or not. Also benefited by this process is the poor, who would be receiving higher quality products for less price. They would eventually be able to afford them and be part of the market. This theory is quite difficult to grasp, so our class watched two videos describing Smith’s motivation and the process itself (videos are below)
I prefer Adam Smith’s theory of the invisible hand, since all the ranks in the social class are benefiting from it, while being supervised by a sturdy government, who will lead them on. The only problem to this method is the long time it takes for a country to become wealthy. I feel its quite impossible for a country to survive without a government since things could get out of hand. Marx’s theories on communism calls for a recipe of slight violence and disaster. Imagine if the “used-to-be” rich protested against the majority “poor class” for their money back. The results would not be great. Capitalism gives everyone a fair opportunity even if there are social classes, and those who have the capability of achieving success, will earn it fairly.  



Sunday, October 5, 2014

Balancing Costs and Benefits

 Last week our class learned about the textile industry and how the production increase impacted the lives of average families during the 1800's. We learned about the benefits and costs of the girls who were motivated to go and work in the Lowell mills. 

     
If you drive through the town of Lowell, MA, it is quite hard to believe there were hundreds of young girls and boys, who worked hard in the textile mills, almost 150 years ago. It was usually the daughters of farmers who were sent to work in the mills. It benefited the mill owners as they hired a cheap labor force, knowing young girls were obedient. This choice was also in favor for the families since the girls would be sending money home, along with receiving education and maintaining their morality. Girls learned to be more independent, and aware of the money they were earning.
The conditions of the workers were not the best- factors like poor boardinghouses, lack of food, dangerous machines, and unfair wages created a low reputation for the mills. To lure more families to send their daughters, the Lowell Experiment was set in place. This experiment's goal was to avoid the negative aspects of industrialization, and try and convince girls to look for jobs in Lowell. The experiment emphasized the protection of women, and maintained their morality and dignity by creating a paternal system that was similar to the 19th century American dynamic family. The father figure was played by the corporation who set the rules, such as curfew, for the girls. While the boarding house keepers were the mother figure, who regulated the behavior of the girls outside mill hours and maintained a "homely" environment. The girls were educated without any cost, while earning money for their families; these elements appealed to many families and soon there were many young girls and women working in the factories.
       After learning about the Lowell Experiment, my class and I watched an interesting thirty minute documentary, titled Daughters of Free Men (video embedded below). This film was about the women who worked in Lowell's textile mills in the 1830s. The film showed the initial struggle of the workers and how they protested and stood up for themselves when wage cuts were unfair. This documentary was told through the perspective of a young girl named Lucy Hall who moved to Lowell to earn money for her family. Along with fitting in with the other workers, Lucy encountered tough choices she had to take to stand up against the unjust treatment and improper wages.    
     The potential benefits for the mill girls balanced out the probable drawbacks. As the girls earned enough money to provide for their families they were required to travel and work far from their loved ones. The boarding houses assured a safe place to stay and serving daily meals, however the fees of these houses took up most of their wages that were received; also taking into consideration of the inconsistent salaries. The dangerous machinery, and strict rules imposed by the overseers added to the list of costs. However, the education and new independence appealed to many girls who worked in the mills.

     The Lowell Experiment and the "Mill Girl Era" ended around the time the Civil War took place. The dramatic increase in immigrants provided a cheaper labor force, and the living and working conditions deteriorated in the city. However, the mill girls impacted the common perception of women. Differing from the norm, perspectives were changed as women worked outside their homes, lived away from their family, were educated, wrote for the public, and reformed labor. A few mill girls returned to the farms and got married, and many carried on with their independent lives, some even became outspoken abolitionists and women's rights activists.
     

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Hanging Out With Fancy Accents

A captured moment of Jaime showing us
 the steam-machine power loom that was used in
the 1780s
As my class moves further into the history of the Industrial Revolution we are beginning to learn the horrid conditions of the factory workers, and their life and routine, in general. Last week we had an amazing opportunity of conversing with textile experts from the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, England. Below I will mention the awesome Google hangout our class had with 'dem accented folks from Manchester!

Yes, my class hung out with people from England, and yes, they did have fancy accents. When my class was introduced to this assignment, we were all super excited. Since we were going to talk to "experts", we had to have some idea what they were going to discuss with us. So in order to prepare for the chat, my class and I popped on their website and explored their online "Textiles Gallery" archive. My class and I read all about Richard Arkwright and his water frame, and the several textile designers who designed several fabrics. We then watched a quick introductory video on all the machines and the industry itself, by our "explainer", Jaime. As we watched the video, we kept a running list of words that we didn't know (which was a lot). Later, we did a quick Google search and defined the terms. There were several words I had never heard of, like Hopper Feeder Scutcher (try saying that in a English accent 3 times fast). Just so we wouldn't stare blank faced at Jaime we came up with a list of questions to ask him during the chat, mostly related to the textile industry, and the job of a museum curator.
Finally, after becoming "pros", the day of the awaited Google hangout arrived (on my birthday, in fact, what a nice present). After tackling a few technical issues, Jaime was on the smart-board explaining away. As he showed us all the machines used in the textile process, I realized how long the whole method took. Every employee's work counted into making the final product. We also saw the various improvements in the machines used and how fast they were being "updated"; beginning from the hand loom the industry increased production rates by introducing the power loom.  As the industry progressed forward machines got bigger, louder, and clunkier. In fact, the machines became less safe as more complex methods of cotton-making were popularized. It was sad to hear the various situations the child and women laborers had to work in- Jaime told us about the frequent accidents, harsh punishments, and the lack of food. There were so many children and women who died in the factories, that the mill owners hired orphans to perform the dangerous jobs, such as cleaning, knowing that they didn't have anyone who cared for them. It was also easier to pay them; only some food and a place to stay was more than enough. Along with some information about the textile industry, Jaime also talked a little about his career, and how he became interested in the field. He too became acquainted with the topic when he was young and always had an interest for the machines. I thought the machines were pretty cool, too!
Overall, I thought this whole experience was "enriching" to our minds. I thought it was a nice way to see the machines that were used in the olden days, and watch how they were operated. It gave us a more concrete idea of all the working conditions that were set for the laborers. It was a fun way to learn a lot about the industrial revolution and how the textile mills and factories played a part. I, personally, have never been in a class where we get to interact and learn with people from outside the school, let alone the country; and I can't wait to do more activities like this.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Trying Out New Careers

My group's exhibit on Child Labor on display
Last week in history class, we switched out of our normal job of studious learning and became a museum curator...and visitor. My group of fellow museum curators, were given the task of "curating" child labor during the Industrial Revolution. Below I have written a few paragraphs about my new career experience. 

         My class was given the opportunity of curating one of the several topics of the Industrial Revolution, such as pollution, steam powered transportation, cotton looms, increase in slavery, and child labor. My group and I got to curate the matter of child labor during the revolution. Before I get to my personal experience and enrichment of this activity, let me define the term "curate". A curator, usually found in museum or historical exhibits, has the responsibility of thoroughly analyzing and researching the subject that they expert in, and displaying them for public viewing. They determine what visitors should learn from the exhibit, and they provide key dates, figures, events, etc. Their main goal is to give as much knowledge as possible while being concise and appealing. It's necessary for the curator to analyze their subject keenly because they need to share accurate information with their audience. The more inferences and connections they make the better; and any catchy titles, slogans, pictures, and color are always in favor for curators.
          Since my group and I didn't have much accurate knowledge on child labor during the Industrial Revolution, it was needed for us to research and learn more about it. We were provided several sources such as the 1833 Factory Act, a journal entry about the Bobbin Girls, and many pictures. We evaluated these sources and determined the key pieces of information that we wanted to share with our "visitors", who were pretty much our classmates. We highlighted the crucial points related to child labor, such as the Factory Act, some demographics, and the several hardships the young workers had to go through.  It didn't take us long to come up with a captivating title, just a few alluring vocabulary words arranged here and there, and we invented our fabulous title that set the somber mood of the topic- "Condemning the Innocent: Child Labor during the Industrial Revolution".
          After the hard work of our exhibits, we hung them up and got to view the presentations of the other groups. As we toured each group I was able to grasp the history of the revolution and, personally, I thought it was fun to explore each exhibit and connect them to the other ones. The first exhibit I "toured" was on the pollution during the Industrial Revolution. I learned that many big cities, like Manchester, were the hub for mills and factories. The boom in this industry caused large smoke emissions and many contaminants in rivers. The next presentation covered the topic of steam powered transportation. The multiple diagrams explained the mechanism of the steam engine. The poster also included a nice timeline displaying the progress of transportation in America; it was interesting to see how quickly transportation improved during the revolution. Afterward, I learned about looms and other machines used in the textile industry. I read about the Spinning Jenny and how it allowed textile workers to weave faster than before. These new inventions caused a huge increase in textile productions and allowed the population of cities like London to grow. The last exhibition I visited concerned the escalation in slavery.The poster consisted of a graph which caught my eye; it showed the relation between the increase in the manufacturing industry and the increase in slavery. As the Industrial Revolution became more and more popular and the number of factories tripled the amount of workers grew too. Sadly, this called for slavery and many African Americans were put to work in the factories.
I loved viewing all the exhibits, and I thought all of them were interesting and had museum-like qualities. Each exhibit had their unique features like colorful backgrounds, pictures, and catchy titles.
I thought this whole curating process was a nice way of sharing our understanding and at the same time learn about the Industrial Revolution. I personally like such hands-on and creative projects, and I can't wait to do more!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Revolutionary Recipe

"Industrial Revolution"
http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Industrial_Revolution.aspx
Last week my class was introduced to the Industrial Revolution and we explored the four "ingredients" of the revolution- people, technology, resources, and transportation. In the beginning of our lesson we watched John Green's Industrial Revolution Crash Course video (which I've embedded below), to get a basic idea of the revolution. These four ingredients combined made the Industrial Revolution "revolutionary", and I shall explain how below.

     The term Industrial Revolution is still mentioned quite a lot, even though it took place almost four centuries ago. The revolution had a huge impact in many fields, such as agriculture, manufacturing, transport, and technology. The revolution, starting in the United Kingdom, Europe, and North America, shaped the course of these nations, and eventually spread throughout the world. The human population grew drastically, along with the life expectancy rate, due to the agricultural advances and increase of other jobs in factories. Lots of mechanical devices, including steam engines, were invented during this time and resulted in efficient ways in the textile and transportation field. New chemicals were introduced to replace the natural products used, such as urine. The Industrial Revolution marked a critical point in humankind and influenced today's modern technology and living.
     One main "ingredient" for the Industrial Revolution was the people, of course. People put effort to improve agriculture by introducing several advanced agricultural techniques such as crop rotation and enclosure. Farmers created fertilizers from livestock to renew soil, increasing the amount of crop produced. Quality and quantity of farm products were the main focus of farmers during the revolution. Seed drills and dikes were designed to protect the land and use as much of it as possible. Enclosure forced peasant workers to find work in the cities, which affected the economy for the better. Due to the lack of need of peasant workers, profits rose for large fields. The agricultural advances boosted the life expectancy rate and increased population.
      Along with agriculture advances and increase in population, the industrial revolution excelled in the transportation and machinery fields, as well. The invention of the steam engine led to the creation of other powerful machines, such as steam boats/ships, house machines, and factory machinery. With the help of machines, production rates grew, giving the economy a boost, as well. The amount of labor performed in one factory was equivalent to the labor performed in the entire industry of a district. Steam powered ships and boats allowed transportation that was not dependent on the weather, unlike sailboats. The invention of railways and cars allowed travel and communication to improve, too.
     As you can tell, there were many key factors, or "ingredients", that added to this huge transition in society; there are too many to count. But without the Industrial Revolution the standard of living would be completely different and the impact it had on humanity was phenomenal.

John Green's Industrial Revolution Crash Course Video!!


Friday, September 5, 2014

Boring 48 Minute Lectures

   
"Critical Media Literacy Resource"
http://www.learningtoendabuse.ca/learn/media-violence
  
I possibly forgot to mention that my history class is a technology based class; which basically means everything is done online- on computers, phones, iPads, TVs, and smart-boards. There is no usage of books and paper. It's essentially a paper free environment. Pretty cool, right? So to get used to this no-paper setting, my teacher spent a class giving a boring forty-eight minute lecture about the art of media literacy. Just kidding! My teacher is much cooler than that. It is scientifically proven that humans learn better by doing rather than being told what to know. So we got to explore the field of virtual media through a few activities like playing A Google a Day, visiting the one and only Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus Website, and then finally, reflecting, (yes we did do educational stuff), on what we learned.  
     Google was nice enough to create a game where three questions are asked to the player who must find the answer. These questions, however, aren't your everyday multiplication facts; they are carefully structured so that pieces of information are put together to give the final answer. Google provides a modified search engine, minus all the junk websites with false information, to help the player answer the question. It may sound complicated but it isn't as bad as it seems; I suggest that you should give it a try. I personally enjoyed A Google a Day by gathering little clues that led to the final solution, it reminded me of a scavenger hunt. The activity also reminded me that Google doesn't function by typing in a complicating question and pressing enter. It was frustrating trying to find answers because it's almost impossible for Google to give correct answers all the time, so it took a little bit of guess and check, as well. 
     I don't know if you've heard of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus website; I didn't until my teacher told me about it. Whether or not, that website is a completely unreliable source- because there's no such thing as a tree octopus!! I totally fell for it at first, until I read the whole website. Then I started to get more and more suspicious, because first of all it didn't make sense and also because the website was not accurate, authentic, and reliable.
     These are the three words that came out of our reflection. Every source must pass the three word test, it must be accurate, or correct and as exact as possible; it must be authentic, or genuine; and it should be reliable; or a trusted source. If all a source falls under these categories, it may be used in school for projects and assignments.
     After this lesson on media literacy, I walked with more knowledge on how to use the internet wisely. The internet is a deep and dangerous place filled with inaccurate, unauthentic, and unreliable information. Since my class will be using technology and the cyberspace very often, it is necessary to look out for "spoiler" websites (as Google refers) and work with safer websites. I can't wait!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Student's Definition of Education

Textbookshttp://www.smcmbooks.com/site_incoming_students.asp
Hello readers and welcome to my blog! So here's a formal introduction: my name is Akshita Rao and I am a sophomore in high school this year. This blog is dedicated to my history class this year, and, hopefully, will be filled with bunch of words, thoughts, and opinions related to what I do in class. And now to my first blog post concerning the most school-related topic in school: education...

     According to dictionary.com, the definition of a teacher is "a person who teaches" (Well that's specific, thank you Google!) Sure, that is the job of a teacher, but in my opinion teaching is much more than just an occupation for many. There are two major categories that almost everything falls under- something good and something bad. These categories even apply to teachers- there are good teachers and, unfortunately, there are bad teachers. Sadly, the latter seems to have a slightly greater population among the teacher community. My definition of a good teacher is someone who, along with their knowledge and intellect, respects every student in the class, and is warm, kind, and open to all the younglings in their class. I also feel the most important trait of a good teacher, and all my other favorite teachers in the past, is one who still has a love for learning and shares that passion to everyone. I feel nowadays it's rare to find teachers who are enthusiastic in teaching; they don't seem to have that passion anymore. Based on my observations, as the grade level of a student increases the passion and enthusiasm decreases in teachers- either it's the boring learning material that sucks all these traits out of them or we're just growing up and everybody is decides to be "serious". Personally, I get very bored learning drab material that are taught in drabby ways. I love it when teachers change up the class agenda often and come up with creative ideas to teach, it keeps me (and probably many other students) motivated.
     As stated by rusty-trusty dictionary.com, a student is defined as "any person who studies." (Wow, so descriptive!) This is, overall, the duty of a student, but there must be something more to this extremely specific explanation. So I dwelt in further and with a little help from my teacher, found an interesting video about this whole school-student topic. I watched 'An Open Letter Students Returning to School' by famous author and Youtuber, John Green. (the video is below if you're interested) Here, Green wonderfully describes the job of a student- we are taught by amazing teachers who give us knowledge that will help us in the future. This knowledge that we acquire may be thrown out by a few students, but many use this to make the future a better place. I most definitely agree with John Green. Education is provided so we don't live in a world of stupid people!
     So starting this new year, I wish to become a better student. I also hope to get involved in school- by either joining sports teams or clubs. Naturally, in order to do plenty of things, like me, it is very advisable to be organized, or you'll be sitting up till 3 in the morning. (It's happened before) So, following on this, my overall goal this year is to stay on top of things and be prepared and planned. I am looking forward for my 10th grade in this wonderful education system I tried my best to describe above, and I hope to accomplish all my goals this year!


An Open Letter to Students Returning to School by: John Green