Teacher Talk: Presidential Politics (June 28 & July 1)

It is hard to believe that we have now completed over one week at VAMPY!  Students in Presidential Politics went to visit Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage in Nashville last Friday.  We left at 9:00 in the morning & returned at 4:00.  Students got to see a orientation movie over Jackson’s presidency when we arrived and then we toured the museum.  After eating box lunches in the cafeteria we went on a guided tour of the mansion before going on a self-guided tour of the plantation grounds outside.  Luckily the rain held off long enough for us to finish our tour.

The students then enjoyed activities that their counselors planned for them on the weekend.  We had study hall Sunday night where the students were assigned two questions to be prepared for when we get to hear a guest speaker with the Chinese class on Wednesday about the significance of Richard Nixon’s trip to China in 1972.

Today in class we spent the first hour looking at clips from the news over the weekend that involved President Obama, Congress & the political events from last week.  Students then read an article from the magazine, ‘The Week,’ that talked about Obama’s plan for global warming.  In the article students found different view points that represented liberal & conservative opinions over the issue.

Before lunch we role-played the court case ‘Richard Nixon vs. the United States’ in which the class found Richard Nixon guilty by a vote of 7 to 2.  Our class overwhelmingly said that Nixon did not have the right to executive privilege and therefore was required to turn over the tapes implicating Nixon’s role in the cover-up of the Watergate scandal.  We then read a section over the presidency of Gerald Ford before we looked at how historians judged his presidency.

After lunch we went to the library for an hour where the students researched President Carter’s ‘Malaise’ speech.  The students also took part in two political surveys so they could see which political parties & political candidates they most agreed with in 2012 & possible presidential candidates in 2016.

For the last afternoon session students watched a short clip over the Gerald Ford & Jimmy Carter presidencies.  We then had a very insightful conversation about presidential politics, how historians judged their presidencies, & the expectations that the American people today have of their presidents.  We ended class with a role-play of the 1976 debate that took place between Jimmy Carter & President Ford.