*The American Presidency Field Trip
 

 

The American Presidency: A Virtual Overview
By Michael Hutchison, Teacher

Introduction:

Possibly no political office in history is more known or visible than the President of the United States. Often in the study of US History, we find ourselves reflecting on the American story in terms of presidential administrations (Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal combated the problems of the Great Depression; President Richard Nixon's administration was shattered by Watergate; the Civil War was fought during Abraham Lincoln's term of office; etc.) Since the presidency is such an important part of American culture and history, it is important for our students to understand the office, the men who have held the office, and how the office is obtained. The purposes of this module include a discussion of issues related to using the Internet in social studies classroom projects, as well as a listing of some related resources and activities teachers may use in their classrooms regarding U.S. presidents. A demonstration tour is also provided for students.

Why a module on the US Presidency?

The American Presidency is an office unique in world history. Very few nations have a governmental system which allows ANYONE to become the leader of the country, in this case, one of the most powerful in the world. In the past century alone, the White House has been occupied by the son of a Presbyterian minister, a peanut farmer, a failed haberdasher, a former actor, a high school teacher, and the son of a failed California lemon rancher.

The framers of the Constitution probably could not have envisioned the level that the president currently influences world and domestic affairs, especially the power to use nuclear weapons. The framers also would probably never have dreamt that presidents would be the subject of intense scrutiny of their health, backgrounds, and personal lives. Therefore, it's important that our students become aware of the office, and the people who occupy it. They need to know about presidential successes and failures, and recognize that the office and the presidents themselves shape our country, our government, our lives, and our futures.

Resources and project strategies:

One important aspect to any online project or simulation is that of preparation. Teachers need to be aware that at best, the Internet can be described as a "work in development". Though I have selected sites for you to visit, keep in mind that sites that are here today may be gone (or moved somewhere else) tomorrow. My suggestion is -- if a link proves to be "dead", a web search might uncover a new location for the desired site. For more information on searching the Internet, take a look at the "Lounge" section of Field Trips Site and explore, "Short Course: Searching the Web with Altavista."

Now, please feel free to explore and use the field trip and Teacher's Resources on the presidency.

 

 

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