An examination of the values that motivated historical actors is an important part of understanding history. I think one of the most effective elements of Choices materials is the role play that calls on students to first observe the values of historical actors, and then to articulate the values that underlie their proposed option for a contested international issue.
I use the values activity in the Shifting Sands: Balancing U.S. Interests in the Middle East unit in my semester long International Relations class. I first elicit from students (10th-12th graders) the values that they subscribe to and that they think should ideally underlie their own policy option for how the U.S. should interact with the Middle East.
After we discuss the concept of values and identify the values inherent in the four policy options that students are assigned to role play, they are ready to articulate the values that they would draw on to create their own U.S. policy towards the Middle East. In creating their own option, they must demonstrate their understanding of the history of U.S. relations with countries in the Middle East. This year students wrote a U.S. policy towards Libya, just as the U.S. was deciding on its level of involvement in this new regional flare up.
With all of the Choices units I’ve used, students have always commented that they learn more when they have to defend an option they normally wouldn’t support. This makes students more aware of the notion of competing perspectives and points of view in creating policy.
In sum, Choices materials help cultivate a habit of value-based decision making that’s based on a reflection of the values of historical actors, but also forces students’ self reflection on their own values.
How do you use the Values Activity found in many Choices units? What do your students say about the activity?
Posted by guest blogger Kevin Conlon, Francis Parker School, Chicago
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President Obama’s speech last night had a few media pundits talking about an “Obama Doctrine.” Below is an excerpt from The U.S. Role in a Changing World that helps students think about the role of presidential doctrines in U.S. history and what an Obama Doctrine might actually be.
Have students read the excerpt below and then watch the president’s speech.
- Do students think the president established a doctrine? Or is this something less sweeping?
Presidential Doctrines (Excerpted from The U.S. Role in a Changing World)
Throughout history, U.S. presidents have had their names attached to the foreign policy doctrines they established. (A doctrine is a fundamental principle of a policy.) Below are a few examples of famous presidential doctrines.
The Monroe Doctrine: President James Monroe’s (1817-1825) stated that efforts by European nations to colonize or interfere in the Americas (North and South) would be considered as acts of aggression that demanded a U.S. response.
The Truman Doctrine: President Harry Truman (1945-1953) asserted that the United States would support democracy around the world and help states and peoples resist the spread of Soviet Communism.
The Carter Doctrine: President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) warned that the United States would use force to protect the oil of the Persian Gulf region from the Soviet Union.
The Bush Doctrine: President George W. Bush (2001-2009) said that the United States would use military force preventively against perceived threats to the United States even if a threat was not immediate.
The Obama Doctrine?: President Barack Obama (2009- ) does not have a doctrine named after him—yet. Are there any clues about what an Obama Doctrine might be?