Saturday, May 10, 2008


My students took the US History test yesterday. The Document Based Question was about the Vietnam War. DBQs are questions that require the students to read documents and incorporate them into an essay using the documents to bolster their thesis. I was interested in the documents that the student were given. While I expected the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and something about Nixon, I was kind of unprepared for the lyrics of a song from Woodstock by Country Joe and the Fish. While the song was clever, it was not something I would have made available to high school students as it made liberal use of the "F" word. I looked at the packet of information and strangely enough it bypassed the obscentities. Without the "F" word it seemed to be a rather tame song.

The version I provided is the uncut version. I was very disturbed that the AP testers used this obscene song in the test. I am going to protest this. The fact that they edited it is lame. If the song had academic validity play it in its entirety. Instead, the testers felt it necessary to play only a portion of the song so that their agenda was met. Having been a part of this generation I get the implication of this song.

The slant of the question and of the documents provided is crap. Of the nine documents provided, two were not out and out anti-war. From talking to the students it was not hard to determine the effect on the students of these documents. They were adamantly against our effort there. That's good you say. I wish it was that easy. Our aims there were honorable. The media, and their friends in the universities beat the war effort down into a dishonorable undertaking that was limited to the propensity of the US to be an imperialist country. In other words, the Truman Doctrine and the Containment Policy were worthless undertakings that just expanded US influence and chewed up GIs.

I beg to differ. What chewed up GIs was the lack of willpower by the US government to win the war. We won every battle. When it got down to it, the US lost its will, backed out and made us run. We signed a truce in 1973, after we lost 58,000 soldiers. In 1975, the North attacked the South and we abandoned them. THIS WAS NOT A LOST WAR, IT WAS A FORFEITED WAR.


The Vegas Art Guy said...

Actually it was the democratic leadership deciding to stab a sovereign country in the back and then pretend that it was some sort of victory. I hope that some day the sixties will be properly regarded as the worst decade in our 200+ year history.

Shays said...

You saw the test!? As an AP teacher I'm not allowed at the testing site, my students aren't allowed to return to school to see me and I can't even touch a test.

Gatorman said...

I haven't seen the test, materials, but I will say that Country Joe and the Fish actually had an original version where they give the "Fish" cheer. Gimme an F, I, S, H. etc....

But again, I haven't seen the materials.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Thanks for the visit. The sixties did an immense amount of harm to this country. The 30s were hard for a different reason. The 60s were self-inflicted wounds.

Thanks for the visit. I didn't give the test one of our counselors did. The packet containing the DBQ and the free response essays are available after the test. She gives them to me and I give them to the kids. The test was first thing in the morning. What did your kids do the rest of the day? I have them in 5th and 6th periods. The test is in the possession of the counselor. I don't lay eyes on them. Come back again.

Thanks for the visit. I don't have a problem with materials in opposition to the war. The others were credible sources. I just think a song from Woodstock is not a credible source. As McCain said "I'm sure it was cultural and pharmaceutical event." I hope you visit again.

Tapline said...

L&O Teach, Excellent post. agenda driven tests are the new in. I guess....Rather than the facts given. Unfortunately, the facts are so hard to glean with all the slanted information out there. "Fight the good fight" stay well...

Average American said...

We "forfeited" the war for several reasons. Although there certainly is enough blame to go around, I attribute most of it to the liberal media. Just like today, they only gave us 1/2 of the news--the bad half! Remember, Vietnam was the first war to get thoroughly scrutinized by the press. The American public gets the second largest share of blame, especially chicken hearted college students to afraid to do their duty and to easily manipulated by their liberal professors. Our politicians get a good heaping of blame also for not having the spine to do the right thing.

I don't know if the 60's were our "worst" decade, but they were certainly the most radical. Free sex, drugs, and moral decadence prevailed and people started not being responsible for their own actions. Respect became an unknown. After all, if you don't respect yourself, are you likely to respect anything?

I've vented enough for 1 night. See ya later L & O.


APUSH teacher said...

I used the Vietnam protest song in class. There were no curse words. We focused on the lyrics that touted be the first one on your block to have your son come home in a box. All documents used have bias and can slant the answers... smart kids can talk their way around that!

APReader said...

Reading these postings one is reminded that objectivity is usually unobtainable until the generation that lived through the event is gone. Those of us who lived during the 1960's absorbed alot and are still processing it.
On the issue of using popular songs for the DBQ I wonder if there would have been an objection to Where have all the soldiers Gone? or For what its worth by Buffalo Springfield. I find song lyrics to be very revealing of popular culture something the textbooks are very weak on as a rule.
I do take issue with a few comments here. The debate about losing or forfeiting the war in Vietnam is interesting but it is hard to see how we could have prevailed against a nationalist independence movement such as Ho Chi Minh was leading. After all he had quoted Jefferson in Hanoi in 1945 at the end of WWII. And blaming the loss of the war on a liberal media or left wing academics is a half truth at best. Hitler blamed Germany’s loss of WWI on a Jewish liberal conspiracy that suited his political agenda and psychology. Conservatives in America have to be careful not to go down this path when looking back at 1968. You can't blame liberals for My Lai or the Gulf of Tonkin. Those were the outcomes of bad political choices and weak leadership. In a democracy the people chose and then take stock of their choice. Presidents are evaluated overtime and all we can say so far is that Johnson and Nixon have not fared well. A clear eyed democracy has to take responsibility for its accomplishments and failures. In the end, time is the great clarifier. My great grandchildren will judge how the 60's turned out, not us.