Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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  Workshop 5: Patriotism & Foreign Policy  
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Workshop 5

Workshop Session
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Teacher Perspectives
Student Perspectives
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Student Perspectives: Group projects

David (Theater Group): We decided to pick some pieces or playwrights or directors that reflected American patriotism in other countries and how they’ve defined the American way of life or the American struggles. Like in Clifford Odet’s “Waiting for Lefty,” he defined struggles that a lot of Americans were going through during the 1930s. So I’m going to see how I can show how these citizens in the play--their patriotism--affected their everyday life.

Leo (Theater Group): I've known these kids since my freshman year and we know a lot about each other and a lot about our different experiences. So we have a tendency to argue a lot. With this specific topic--patriotism--we really couldn't agree on one definition. We finally did come to an agreement and they kind of helped me out, as I do them, where they know what I know and I know what they know. If I'm wrong on a topic or they are wrong on a topic, it's okay, because I'm here to educate you, and you're here to educate me. It's kind of an exchange system.

The presentation today was, I think, a mess. I always think I can do better. I liked the fact that we were creating a museum and that we had to incorporate [personal ideas]. I think we should have gotten a little more hands-on and actually brought in more material and more research. We just talked about what we were going to do. I was talking about how I wanted to incorporate the play "Oklahoma." I think that I should have brought in a poster of the play, a playbill, some songs, some music, or maybe the play itself on video to show a clip. I think I could have done so much more with it. We had a game plan where we were going to bring in our materials, but I think I just got caught up in the weekend--I'm in “Romeo and Juliet” right now--[and] I have a 37-page term paper due. The government project was the smallest thing on my list, because I knew so much about the topic, whereas this 37-page term paper that I have to do, I have to do so much research and it's extensive. [With] "Oklahoma," it was something that I didn't have to research because I knew what I was talking about. Overall I think we did a good job.

The improv, now that was difficult. We initially were going to do a reading of "Waiting for Lefty," which we did last year. We forgot the scripts, but my friend put us on the spot and asked us to perform. The point that I was trying to make with the improvisation was specifically that authors put a hidden revolution in their scripts. That's what Clifford Odets was saying, I feel, in his play where this Jewish man was really good at what he did, but he was fired for the simple fact that he was a Jew. It's kind of sad that people won't hop on a podium and say stuff like this. It's kind of sad that artists have to hide it and incorporate it into their work. But as we've learned here, theater is a mimic of life. Maybe he wasn't really trying to hide the fact that this was going on in America. I guess the point that I was trying to get across was that authors, actors, playwrights, singers, dancers put forth this passion that we have for our art, but also combine it with what others have to deal with and the pain of society and the trials and tribulations of what others have to go through. We're fortunate to be able to get up on a stage and act or dance. Not so long ago, I probably couldn't have gotten up and did what I did in the classroom. I probably wouldn't have been allowed to. I think that was one of the big points that I was trying to get across.

Myra (Theater Group): We started with four different nominees for the museum, and we wanted to do a variety of different things. Ms. Chandler gave us some ideas, but they were all movies, so we wanted to first think of things other than movies. We thought of a play by Clifford Odets (“Waiting for Lefty”) that we performed last year. We are thinking of using how that relates to patriotism in particular, and also to see if it has been performed in other countries. Then we wanted to bring in an actor/actress, so we went for Shirley Temple Black. Ms. Chandler also suggested her because she went from [being a] child star [to being a] cultural ambassador that everybody around the world knew and loved. [We wanted] to explore how that transition came about and how she developed such an interest in that area, and then we also wanted to look at Steven Spielberg and the work he has done--what kind of a perception [his movies] give of the country everywhere around the world. Also, the musical “Oklahoma,” and how there is one man who is trying to get it to run in London, and there are just many different feelings on that idea, and whether people would be interested in seeing a very American play in England. I think there are some other places in Europe that are looking at it as well, but we thought that would be interesting as a more current event to bring up.

Selena (Museum Group): Basically, we’re using some different people and events and artifacts to reinforce the ideas of patriotism and foreign policy. We’re also going to try to tie in the other people’s arts and talents so that it can show how patriotism can relate to one’s art. Doing this museum is helping us learn about foreign policy because we have people on our list that we might have not known before. And we have different groups all doing different things that go into foreign policy and patriotism. Each group is bringing something different to the table.

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