ERIC Identifier: ED411175
Publication Date: 1996-09-00
Author: Schlene, Vicki J.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science Education Bloomington IN.
Teaching about Vietnam and the Vietnam War. ERIC Digest.
A high school senior recently told a reporter, "I keep hearing people say Central America is just like Vietnam. How am I supposed to know if Nicaragua is like Vietnam if I don't know what Vietnam is like?" Another student described his lack of knowledge of the Vietnam War and his fascination with it as the black hole of history. These responses reflect the widespread ignorance of students about a pivotal event in American history.
Our students were not born when the last helicopter lifted off the United States embassy rooftop in Saigon in 1975. Yet most of them have experienced myriad images, isolated facts, and emotional testimonials regarding Vietnam. But they lack systematic and detailed knowledge of a turning point in modern American history. If we want our students to understand many current foreign policy issues, they must be adequately informed about the war in Vietnam and how it has influenced our leaders and our culture. Given the importance of the Vietnam War in modern American history, it should be emphasized more than it is in the history curricula of schools.
REASONS FOR NEGLECT
How and where should teachers include in the curriculum a decade-long conflict, spanning three presidencies? This problem continues to perplex educators. It took more than ten years after the last troops were withdrawn for teaching about Vietnam to be included in curricula of schools. Those teachers who took on this task found little, if any, scholarly supplementary instructional materials. Often, they were forced to write their own materials. The many controversies surrounding Vietnam made it a political hot-potato many instructors wanted to avoid. What can be done to improve teaching and learning about Vietnam and the Vietnam War?
WAYS TO TEACH ABOUT VIETNAM
ORGANIZATIONS AND RESOURCES FOR TEACHING ABOUT VIETNAM AND THE VIETNAM WAR
Three social studies journals have devoted entire issues to teaching about the Vietnam War: (1) "Social Education," January 1988, (2) "New England Journal of History," Spring 1990, and (3) "The Social Studies," January/February 1995.
Active Southeast Asia Resource Centers are located at several universities. Many of these centers produce instructional materials on teaching about Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries. In addition, many organizations provide information on teaching about Vietnam. Here is a partial list of these organizations.
George Mason University
4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22040-4449
Center for Southeast Asian Studies
University of Wisconsin, Madison
4115 Helen C. White Bldg.
600 N. Park Street
Madison, WI 53706
Center for the Study of the Vietnam Conflict
Texas Tech University, Box 4529
Lubbock, TX 79409-1013
Center for Southeast Asian Studies
University of Hawaii at Manoa
416 Moore Hall, 1890 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822-2383 @--
Association for Asian Studies, Inc.
University of Michigan
1 Lane Hall
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 @--
Center for International Studies
University of Missouri-St. Louis
8001 Natural Bridge Road
St. Louis, MO 63121-4499
Center for Social Studies Education
3857 Willow Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15234 @--
Southeast Asia Program
180 Uris Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-7601
Institute of East Asian Studies
University of California-Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720 @--
Asia Society, Inc.
725 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021 @--
Vietnam Veterans of America
2001 S Street NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20009 @--
National Vietnam Veterans Coalition
P.O. Box 9504
Washington, DC 20016 @--
Vietnam Veterans' Institute
John Deere Building, P.O. Box 386
Timonium, MD 21093
History of Vietnam - Offers a good overview to the history of Vietnam.
REFERENCES AND ERIC RESOURCES
Bender, David L. VIETNAM WAR: OPPOSING VIEWPOINTS. St. Paul, MN: Greenhaven Press, 1984.
Berman, David M. " Every Vietnamese Was a Gook': My Lai, Vietnam, and American Education." THEORY AND RESEARCH IN SOCIAL EDUCATION 16 (Spring 1988): 141-159. EJ 376 906.
Berman, David M. "Perspectives on Teaching the Vietnam War." SOCIAL STUDIES 77 (July/August 1986): 165-168. EJ 343 111.
Dunn, Joe P. "Teaching the Vietnam War in High School." SOCIAL STUDIES 74 (September/October 1983): 198-200. EJ 288 888.
Dunn, Joe P. THE STATE OF THE FIELD: HOW VIETNAM IS BEING TAUGHT. Spartansburg, NC: Converse College, 1995.
Edmonds, Anthony. RESOURCES FOR TEACHING THE VIETNAM WAR: AN ANNOTATED GUIDE. Pittsburgh, PA: Center for Social Studies Education, 1992.
Gilbert, Marc Jason. THE VIETNAM WAR: TEACHING APPROACHES AND RESOURCES. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991.
Kenney, Marianne, and Joan Besley."'We Gotta Get Out of this Place': Geographic Perspectives on the Vietnam War." JOURNAL OF GEOGRAPHY 88 (July/August 1989): 152-157. EJ 397 146.
Kutler, Stanley I., ed. THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE VIETNAM WAR. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1996.
McCloud, Bill. WHAT SHOULD WE TEACH OUR CHILDREN ABOUT VIETNAM? Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989.
Meadows, Darrell. THE VIETNAM WAR: A FOUR-WEEK INSTRUCTIONAL UNIT--GRADES 11-12. St. Louis, MO: University of Missouri, 1990. ED 328 492.
Olsen, Karen, and John Low. VIETNAM IN THE CLASSROOM: FACT, FICTION, AND TRUTH. Baltimore, MD: Dundalk Community College, 1985. ED 265 912.
Starr, Jerold M., ed. THE LESSONS OF THE VIETNAM WAR: A MODULAR TEXTBOOK. Pittsburgh, PA: Center for Social Studies Education, 1988. ED 337 409.
Tollefson, James. "Conscientious Objection to the Vietnam War." OAH MAGAZINE OF HISTORY 8 (Spring 1994): 75-76. EJ 488 704.
Totten, Sam. "The Lessons of Vietnam." CURRICULUM REVIEW 25 (September/October 1985): 87-89. EJ 324 155.
VIETNAM: A TEACHER'S GUIDE. New York: The Asia Society, 1983.
THE VIETNAM ERA: A GUIDE TO TEACHING RESOURCES. Cambridge, MA: Indochina Curriculum Group, 1978.