Teacher Talk: Presidential Politics Day 3 (June 26)

photoWe had quite an eventful day in Presidential Politics as we started out previewing the presidency of Richard Nixon, watched a short clip over his presidency & looked at ten different categories that historians have traditionally used to evaluate his years in office.  We also read a short passage from the book “Presidential Leadership” that dealt with 15 presidential decisions that shaped our nation.  The passage that we listened to discussed Nixon’s trip to China as the week that changed the world.  In the passage, the author compares Nixon’s trip to China to an old Star Trek movie with the original cast in which Mr. Spock, in trying to convince Captain Kirk to accompany the Klingon chancellor to Earth for peace negotiations, quotes an ancient Vulcan  proverb: “Only Nixon could go to China.”  The connection was that Captain Kirk, who had been fighting the Klingons his entire career, was the sole Starfleet officer with the credibility to seek a peaceful resolution with the Klingons.  The author points out that Nixon was the best-positioned statesman of his generation to attempt normalization with the People’s Republic of China.

We then switched to examining some current issues that have involved the Supreme Court in affirmative action with the recent case this week in Texas as the students read an article from The Week magazine in which a history of affirmative action was given going back to the presidencies of JFK, Johnson, & Nixon.  Students then answered several questions and wrote down their own views on several statements that were made throughout the article concerning the history & future of affirmative action programs.

Before lunch we had an entertaining fictional debate between the three candidates that ran for president in 1968 including Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, & George Wallace.  The rest of the class then had to judge each candidates’ responses to the 12 questions that were asked by each member of the class.


After lunch students went to the library for an hour to finish their research for Thursday’s interclass debate with the Chinese class over how the two countries can best work together to fight pollution, and have cyber-security / intellectual property protections.  Students were also allowed to research two recent topics that have been relevant in the news this week concerning the Supreme Court’s rulings over the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Defense of Marriage Act, and affirmative action.  Several students also researched the current situation involving Edward Snowden, Hong Kong, China, & Russia.

Once we returned from the library, students then read about the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court Case in 1973 and compared that to the recent bill that was debated on Tuesday night in Texas that involved a 12-hour filibuster.

The last hour of class students were assigned roles in the famous Supreme Court case “The New York Times vs. United States” (1971).  Three students were assigned the roles of Daniel Ellsberg, The New York Times, and someone representing the federal government.  We also two prosecuting attorneys, two defense attorneys and the rest of the students were assigned the real names of each of the Supreme Court judges that actually ruled on this case.  The student who role-played the character of Daniel Ellsberg made a very convincing case as there were several interesting points made during this debate.

We look forward to the next two days as Thursday we will have two British Parliamentary Style Debates with the Chinese class & on Friday we will take our first field trip when we visit Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage in Nashville.