Friday, March 03, 2006

History Friday: Winning The War On The Home Front

The Second World War was the last conflict in which the United States Government mobilized the American people behind the War Effort. Indiana history teacher Pam Wielinski brings that long-ago campaign to life for her school's students:
Pam Wielinski brought a piece of history not usually covered in the classroom to the students of Noblesville High School, transforming a library room into a World War II exhibit about the efforts and experiences on the home front.

“Students hear about battles, soldiers and politics; they don't hear about this,” said the Noblesville resident.

Class by social studies class, students sat in the middle of the room surrounded by hundreds of pieces of memorabilia, books, posters, programs, artifacts, medals and toys from the home front Victory Campaign. Before students got a chance to look at all of the materials, Wielinski gave a brief speech about the sacrifices women, child and the elderly made during World War II.

“It shows how focused the country was on the war effort,” Bruce Hitchcock, social studies department chairman, said.

“I try to get across without preaching that everybody did something,” Wielinski said. “The nation was united for a single cause and I don't think we've been a nation united since that time.”

Wielinski isn't certain if this is the fifth or sixth year she's had the display at the high school. She will be there through Friday.

Since she has such an extensive collection, Wielinski tries to bring a few different pieces each year. While the classroom was filled with materials, Wielinski said it contained only half of what she owned.

“Whenever you can get artifacts in a history class it's great,” social studies teacher Tom Knotts said.

Wielinski warned the students that the some of the materials would not be fit in today's society.

“This is not politically correct. This was intended to win a war. That was its purpose,” Wielinski said. “You can call it propaganda, but propaganda is just the art of influencing people.”

“Now it seems racist, but back then it wasn't. They had to get people behind the war,” junior Garrett Auer said.

U.S. history classes are currently studying World War II in the classrooms and an exhibit like this helps to illustrate many classroom subjects for teachers.

“It brings a lot of it back home,” Knotts said. “How big World War II was and how it impacted the community. It serves as a comparison in their own lives, it draws a good contrast.”

The students found that seeing the materials helps them better understand their studies.

“It's good to actually see this stuff instead of just talking about it. You don't really grasp it,” Auer said.

“All of the faces look so familiar; just seeing it puts it in reality,” junior Laura Byers said.

Wielinski said she prefers one subject a little more than the others.

“I like things with moms,” she said. “It shows that even the average housewife could contribute.”
I find it strange that the current administration has quite deliberately chosen to avoid any type of mass appeal to our nation's people to support the War on Terror in general and the struggles in Afghanistan and Iraq in particular.
See this week's Carnival Of Education right here and our latest education-related posts over there.