Freedoms in Society: Rights vs. Responsibilities

We’ve been discussing what I like to call the “fundamentals of Civics.”   American society was designed to provide the best possible government “for the people, and by the people.”  In order to discuss this, we first had to discuss what the perfect society, in fact, is.

You designed your own “utopia” in order to analyze this.  You researched and investigated many of the issues that are on the table today for the elections.  You looked at types of government, amount of governmental involvement in the lives of the people, the role of taxes, quality and quantity of government regulations, whether government has a role in intervening in society, the government role in economics, religious freedom, and rights for minority groups.

Next, we’ll be looking at your projects and discussing traditional American values.  Some critical questions to consider:

1. What are traditional American values and how do we include for value systems of different groups of people?

2. How do we define the concept of freedom?  Our definition and idea of freedom has changed radically since this nation was founded. Roger Williams and James Madison did not think of freedom in the same way that you think of freedom–I’d argue that “freedom” today has a far greater boundary than the Founding Fathers imagined.  But heck, this is your class, not mine, so it’ll be up to you to prove or disprove that statement.

3. What are the duties and responsibilities of the American citizen. With absolute freedom comes absolute responsibility. Are we there yet?  You will tell me.

4. We’ll begin to look at the political parties–they approach the idea of freedom and responsibility from different angles–whether the government should be involved and help in the lives of the people, or whether people should be free of government intervention and do what they choose to do themselves.

Consider these questions and please look at the learnboard linked under “american values.”

Star Wars





I had different plans, but thanks to the compelling genius of ZG, I have changed the first selection of the Science Fiction seminar to Star Wars, which will probably send us in an entirely different direction for the quarter–don’t worry–I got this.  While you are enjoying this 1976 classic, complete with terrible special effects, costumes that are so bad that Halloween wouldn’t take them and truly horrific fight scenes–yes, my five year old could have defeated Darth Vader if he fought like that and thus, a seventy book and movie series complete with action figures and spinoffs would have been avoided.  So, why am I bothering to convert ZG’s customer request into reality?  We will be learning the following:

1. Historiography.  That is the study of the study of history.  “What???” you say.   History has been taught through different lenses since it was created.  One hundred years ago, for example, civil rights and the women’s movement hadn’t yet occurred. This is reflected in the history book.  The same is true for film.  It can be studied in terms of the roles of the actors, how they are cast and stereotyped, and how the director chooses to portray them.  One good example is Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee wrote the script for Kung Fu in 1972 but was not given the lead role because he was Asian.   These types of things are not accidental–it is film and society being shown through the lens of the time period.  Look for examples of this in Star Wars, which is 35 years old.

2. Japanese History.  Star Wars is filled with Japanese history. This is also intentional.  As such, you can expect a quality lesson on feudal Japan from yours truly.  You’d be wise to get a head start researching bushido, the role of the samurai in Japan, sankin kotai, Tokugawa Ieyasu, the role of Zen Buddhism in Japan, cultural diffusion–things that traveled from Japan through India, China, and Korea (martial arts is a prime example), and anything else you might be able to relate.

3. Imperialism and Empire.  Most specifically, we’ll look at the case study of the British Empire, which at one time in history covered most timezones in the globe.  I have assigned the following learnboard on this subject.  Please remember to watch it.

Reel to Real: Muhammad Ali and Civil Rights

In our Reel to Real class, we have discussed several reasons why Muhammad Ali is one of my favorite figures in civil rights.  Ali sacrificed the heavyweight crown, his livelihood, and became a spokesperson for Civil Rights as he stated in the public that “No Vietcong ever called me a n—er.”  This quote put him right in the middle of the political protest on Vietnam.

Please take the time to complete this Learnist Learnboard on Ali, Civil Rights, and Vietnam.

We will discuss Ali’s stance on the war in the context of the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War.

Ali is important in the Cold War, because one of the biggest pieces of propaganda used by the Soviet Union was that America was not, in fact, the “home of the free,” as evidenced by its treatement of African Americans.

Start of another great year…

We have had a successful start of the school year, filled with scholarship. In Civics, we’re discussing the foundations of Civics and citizenship.  In Real to Real, we’re starting with Civil Rights, and in Sci Fi, expect a healthy dose of film historiography (the study of the history of history) as well as some imperialism and empire.  Not to forget the Japanese history we will squeeze in.  

This blog will reinforce each class as well as link valuable resources.