Teaching U.S. History this year is too much fun. No matter who you’re rooting for or against, the cast of characters is so entertaining.
To help you make sense of it, I’m sharing what I find the most helpful to my students. So, here are the four best tools (today) to understand what the heck is happening:
David Wasserman’s delegate scorecard shows how much each of the remaining GOP 4 need in each upcoming state. In the primary, the number is 1237. You have to get there to get the nomination.
Here is Wasserman again, but in 538. His argument is this – if Cruz/Rubio/Kasich are going to stop Trump, at minimum, you have to win your own state. March 1 – that’s Cruz in Texas. For Rubio (Florida) and/or Kasich (Ohio) that’s March 15. If Trump beats you in your home state, take your ball and go home sorry.
Last but not least, once we get to the general election, the only # that matters is 270. It’s not about the polls or the percentages – especially nationally. It’s about can you get to 270 electoral votes. This swing the vote tool is killer. Move the sliders below and you can watch the states swing from blue to red or vice versa. If it’s Trump v. Hilary, it’ll be the first time in American history that two general election candidates have unfavorables so high.
No matter how crazy things may be – these four tools remain helpful.
Take the current leaders in the Presidential primaries and you’ll see this.
Bernie first, I’ll call him dynamite pride: the unfiltered belief that since the system sucks, we should blow it up. Literally, “anything is better than this.”
Turning to Trump, I’ll call his nostalgia pride: the unexamined belief that the ‘good ole days’ are where we have to get back to – no matter what. “Making America great again” can mean so many things and thus doesn’t mean anything.
In my church these two prides show themselves demographically.
The olderlies (my daughter’s word when she was 4) suffer from nostalgia pride. They want to make this church great again and there’s no hesitation (a la Trump) to harken back to a past memory or time when it was good.
The younger crowd who, while committed to church (“I’m here aren’t I?”) want to blow it up – Bernie style. Invoking “this is stupid” they can’t understand why we keep doing it this way.
At 46, I’ve been a charter member of both of these camps – it just depends on when.
Here’s the problem: at root they both suffer from that central vice – pride. Dynamite can’t hear nostalgia because dynamite only sees one solution – destruction. Nostalgia can’t hear dynamite because it’s only view of a better church is historical.
If we truly want to follow that Crazy Carpenter, we have to do three things (revolutionary in their own right):
Stop comparing our best to the other’s worst. Is that my brother or sister in this crazy family or is that an idiot who doesn’t get it? Family? Oh, I need to listen to you. Idiot? I have to shout you down.
Stay in the room with difference. Am I going to learn something from you? Yes, but only if you’re different and I stay – and shut up – long enough.
Trust the slow work of God.
Bernie dynamiters are right in that some things really need to change. Trump nostalgics are right in that there’s 2000 years of hard-won Jesus history that shouldn’t be thrown out. But both are wrong in what they deny. Both lack the essential humility to say, “Not my will but yours be done.” I’m more convinced than ever that the Spirit animates our work and our lives. But we have to grow up – every day. If we’re not willing to grow, why are we following that Crazy Carpenter? Why does it matter?
I’m always curious how political campaigns work (or don’t). Whether it’s watching the fictional characters of the West Wing, (Toby: “we have to get out of New Hampshire”)
or getting day-after stories like this one from Sasha Issenberg, it’s fun to think about. Sasha, the author of Victory Lab, lays out how the Cruz campaign strategized in Iowa. Because there were so many candidates and because Cruz had to do well in IA, the micro-analysis they did mattered.
What’s the line about the two guys hiking in the woods, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you”? Cruz just had to outrun Rubio, Bush et al. He did that.
But how? That’s where it gets interesting. The Cruz campaign decided in very specific instances to send a voter-violation mailer. It shamed (or attempted to shame) marginal voters to show up at the caucus. Here’s what I find interesting – these were voters that Cruz’s people weren’t counting on anyway. In their mind they weren’t going to show up (see the ‘F’ grade) up there? But if they did, they would probably vote for Cruz. So what did Cruz do? He sent the voting violation mailers.
Did he get crap for it? Sure. Did he win Iowa? Yes. Are the two related? I think so.
Over this summer, I’ve read several how to teach innovation books. The best was Tony Wagner’s Creating Innovators. Because of it, I’ve come to following conclusion:
I’m trying to teach too much content.
Or “I’m not pushing enough cognitive load out to my kids.” So, I’m planning on 50% next year. From me – that is, I’m putting it out to the kids. Looking like most other history courses in the universe, my 50% will comprise:
key-word outlines and write-ups from the readings,
lectures, discussion, simulations
review and assessments.
The other two 25% segments are going to come from
team-work (deliverables and peer-ratings) and
burning question (a historical question that you (the student) formulate and answer over the course of the quarter.
Why my 50%? Because we – as a class – need a common story. A backbone if you will. In the 90’s (when I started), the constructivists told us to just release the hounds and that the academic fields would (magically) bloom with educational harvest. That model sucked – still does.
However, we all have those rule-follower students (tell me what to do so I can get an A). We want them to have to think for themselves. More importantly, I want them to have to innovate and “do” history as opposed to listen to it.
So, if I want innovation, I have to be disciplined. For me, discipline (in 2015-16) will look like:
Test-dates in concrete
2 out of every 4 instructional days are 50% days (common-story/backbone days)
1 day per week is a team-day (either simulation/discussion or team writing)
1 day per week is for my kid’s Burning Question. ** This doesn’t mean I’m not right next to them, checking on progress, asking questions, helping them refine. It does mean that I’m killing something in my teaching schedule so they have time to do history.
Tony Wagner points out in his book, “Most of us don’t remember what was taught, but we remember how we learned.”
I’m trying for more ‘how’ and if that means less ‘what’, game on.
There’s a critical difference between the two dominant NCAA basketball teams:
Kentucky ( in the men’s tournament) and
Connecticut (in the women’s).
UConn doesn’t slow down offensively. As evidenced by last night’s unrelenting pressure against Maryland, the Huskies play great defense (like UK) but they never ‘hold the ball’ on the offensive end. As Nate Silver shows at 538, Kentucky did slow things down and it killed them (literally). Here’s a picture of it: Continue reading Geno v. Cal? Geno’s offensive philosophy wins→
My Human Geography class is studying culture right now. Specifically the difference between popular and folk. As I was preparing for that, I remember watching this Charlie Rose interview with Jack Black.
Black makes a couple of important points:
Paramount was only interested in selling furniture (they didn’t care about the music)
They would put anyone in front of the microphone if they thought they could sell 10 records
They exposed the greater United States to a whole bunch of different kinds of music that would have long-lasting cultural impacts.
It reminds me of Gary Vee’s post about depth. As Jack Black says, “Each of these people – women and minorities – are getting to tell their stories in their own voice.”
Here’s the Spotify list that will give you a portion of the Paramount period.
I heard this quote on the Tim Ferris show with Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding. During the show, Potts mentions this quote (attributed to Mark Twain):
God created war so Americans would learn geography.
Being a human geography teacher, I know this to be true. Many of my students don’t remember 9/11, they were toddlers or smaller. They don’t remember our 2nd go-round in Iraq, much less the first in 1990-91.
So when Obama gives a speech about ISIL, they wonder several things:
What is he talking about?
Where in the world are the places he’s talking about?
Vox (in their 14 maps that explain ISIS) has done a great job of showing this critical geography to us. Here’s one of the maps that shows ISIS control.
In our Theory of Knowledge class this past week, we assigned groups of students to represent each of the players involved:
What’s amazing is how fast my students could get up to speed on the complexity and dynamics of the region. Secondly, when each group presented what their country wanted, you get a sense of the challenge involved. Every country wants something different in this part of the world and there’s very little commonality.
Regardless of what you (or I) think should happen in this part of the world, or what American involvement should be, we should take Twain’s advice and learn the geography – if for no other reason than it’s a gift (divine or otherwise).
Turns out in the 1940’s the Democrats controlled almost 80% of the House. Republicans have 244 out of 435, so they’re getting there (56%). To reach those 1940’s #’s the GOP would have to win almost 90 more seats.
Then my student asked a different question:
Does a whooping in the House mean the GOP will win the 2016 presidency?
Not so fast. Why? Because the geographic map (top-right) is misleading. We have to pay attention to where the populations are located. As Obama showed in 2008 & 2012, winning the cities by enough to offset the rural areas was a winning gig.
Here’s a population proportional map of the House.
Where the voters are still matters. It’s not real estate, it’s voters. We’ll see in 2016.