Monday, October 15, 2007

Takaki Ch 7- Labor expoitation and unions!

Takaki Chapter 7 Method


To teach about chapter 7 in Takaki I would focus on labor exploitation and unions. I would focus on this for two reasons. First, it is important part of the story of manifest destiny and exactly how America came to be what it is today, politically, economically, and culturally. Perhaps even more importantly learning about labor and unions is a good way to advance-scaffold their learning which is coming down the road. This chapter covers most of the second half of the 1800’s, and when you think of the labor movement, it really starts in the early 1900’s with the Pullman-Porter strikes, etc… So not only is this part of learning the lesson about the Mexican-American relations and manifest destiny, but it will prepare them for learning that is coming soon and give them a base of knowledge to work with.


The way that I want to teach them this lesson is using a “gateway activity” of one of my favorite movies of all time…the NEWSIES! This Disney classic really never gets old for me…even though I saw it for the first time in 5th grade I believe. It’s a great way to teach kids about what unions are and their importance and also about scabs and how they have been used. So to preface it I will begin with a more didactic approach of covering the lead up to the Mexican-American war and the idea of manifest destiny. I will then have the class help me compile a list on the board of how the Anglos exploited Mexican labor and all of the means (besides slavery) that can be used as tools for labor exploitation (ex- stripping them of property, bringing in scabs to replace them while on strike, taking away their political power, etc…). Then I will ask the students for their thoughts on how workers, and the Mexicans in this case, could fight back against this injustice. This discussion will hopefully bring us to unions. I will then shut out the lights and show a couple scenes from the movie. After the movie clip I will transition back to the lesson of Takaki ch. 7 by talking about the mutualistas as an early example of the labor rights movement and also the importance of class and racial solidarity.

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