Tuesday, July 10, 2012

TAH Summer Institute - Day 1

This past Monday marked the beginning of the TAH summer institute.  With excellent speakers and teacher presentations, it was a fantastic start to what will certainly be a great week!  One of the presentations was particularly compelling.  Professor Jeffery Melnick gave a fascinating presentation on America's Soft Power throughout the world during the 20th century.  This presentation was interesting to an audience of history teachers, but the question remains:  Is there a place in the HS classroom for an in-depth discussion of this topic?  Put another way, is there room for Jamerican Hip Hop in the U.S. History classroom?  After further reflection on Melnick's presentation, I believe the answer is yes.

There is no question that today's history teachers face a real challenge in covering a great amount of content in a short amount of time.  We've all been there.  But within the great breadth of content, we all must be selective about which topics we offer depth to.  I maintain that, given the state of global affairs, the developments of America's Soft Power in the world is a critical topic for today's high school students to understand and discuss.

Professor Melnick offered several ways to teach globalization, glocalization, and the incredibly strong influence that America has over the rest of the world.  One that I really wanted to know more about was his quick reference to the life of a t-shirt.  Fortunately for us, the beginning of the book he was referencing, The Travels of a Tee-Shirt in a Global Economy, is available at google books.  This is a great source that I am confident my students are going to dive into this coming year!  Additionally, Melnicks ideas about researching the globalization of food, sports, tourism, and music (I have a lot of research to do on the Jamaican influences on Hip Hop during the 1970s!) are perfect for discussing this important topic with students.  I know that this is going to be a thought provoking and successful unit with my juniors this year!

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