Past Perspectives on Teaching about the Vietnam War: Implications for Teaching about Iraq

By McMurray, Andrew J. | Education, Spring 2007 | Go to article overview

Past Perspectives on Teaching about the Vietnam War: Implications for Teaching about Iraq


McMurray, Andrew J., Education


Introduction

History teachers must often face the question of teaching potential controversial and emotive issues. Within this framework of controversy, teachers must be sure to allow for objective, academic approaches to historical content that also includes both majority and dissenting interpretations (McMurray, 2005). Perhaps the most controversial of present contemporary events is the current conflict in Iraq.

Students often have a natural interest in the present Iraq situation, as they may have friends or family members serving in the armed forces. Further, they constantly see and hear reports about the conflict on national and local new media. But despite the great interest in current happenings in Iraq among students, many teachers may be understandably hesitant to approach the conflict in even a historical manner. To add to the difficulty, classroom time is typically limited by concerns for the coverage of more traditional content. Consequently, many teachers might likely contend that approaching current controversies, especially those that are potentially fraught with controversy like the Iraq War, are best left alone. Unfortunately, failing to address such an important happening such as the present war in Iraq, signals a failure of the history teacher to prepare the student for civic responsibilities. Conversely, there are ways in which teachers can adequately and objectively approach the present conflict in Iraq and, subsequently, allow students to have a better understanding of what is happening there and prepare them to make well informed civic decisions about their own views regarding the war.

Discovering efficient instructional strategies that allow for effective coverage of current controversial issues can be difficult. Teachers, however, may be well served to examine the past to discover strategies employed by predecessors dealing with similar circumstances. Specifically, the most recent historical example of a conflict that was reasonably similar to present day Iraq is the Vietnam War. Thus, history teachers may come to better understand how to approach the present conflict in Iraq by examining various instructional approaches and strategies which have been shown to be useful when teaching about Vietnam, an earlier divisive war.

The Instructional Quandary of Vietnam In "Teaching About Vietnam and the Vietnam War", Vickie J. Schlene (1996) of the Social Studies Development Center (SSDC) at Indiana University lamented the prolonged neglect of the Vietnam War in public schools. The author contended that textbook coverage of the war was "superficial and often distorted," and that time constraints, as well as the controversial and emotive nature of the content, greatly limited teachers (1996). Schlene suggested that to avert such obstacles, teachers should focus on home front issues and geography, as well as the conflict itself. Despite the specific criticisms leveled by Schlene in 1996, research indicates history teachers had progressed significantly in developing instructional strategies related to teaching the Vietnam War.

Approximately thirteen years following the end of American involvement in Southeast Asia, the academic journal Social Education dedicated an issue to teaching about the war. In this issue, a variety of individuals, including Vietnam veterans who happened to be teachers, teacher educators, and classroom teachers offered various approaches and rationales concerning teaching Vietnam. In addition, observations regarding how Vietnam was approached by classroom teachers were offered.

Starr (1988) noted that textbooks in the first decade following the end of the Vietnam War largely neglected the bitter conflict. He also observed that by even the late 1980s, the controversy surrounding Vietnam had not subsided completely and that biases still existed that prevented a rational coverage of the war in the classroom.

Fleming and Nurse (1988), echoing some of the sentiments offered by other authors, also noted the shortcomings of textbook coverage of Vietnam. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Past Perspectives on Teaching about the Vietnam War: Implications for Teaching about Iraq
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.