Tag Archives: President Abraham Lincoln

CIVICS LESSON #6 CITIZENS MUST PROJECT THEIR FREEDOM AND RIGHTS

Image courtesy of tungphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of tungphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This is the sixth edition of FJ Rocca‘s series, Civics Lessons.

The saying “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” is a stirring reminder that we must always be alert to threats against our freedom. Those threats rarely come from outside the nation. They almost always come from our own government. Therefore, to protect ones liberty, one needs to protect it from government. That is why the US Constitution was drafted as it was, to protect the liberty and rights of The People, not as a collective mass, but as individual American citizens, each and every one of whom has his or her rights guaranteed independently by our founding documents. Please note that there are no other groups specified as having rights in the Constitution or Bill or Rights.

Liberty is not fragile, because, once people experience true freedom they refuse to give it up. But freedom can be stolen from us if we don’t pay attention to what government is doing, what laws it is passing, how competently or incompetently it is handling such vital factors as the economy and defense. Thus, the first duty of every citizen is to guard against this theft by exercising “eternal vigilance” about what politicians do and say.

Think of freedom as a piece of woven cloth. The cloth is very strong, but the threads from which it is woven are each fragile. Therefore, the enemies of freedom never try to tear the cloth, only to cut the threads gradually, stealing individual freedom and rights by cutting the threads one-by-one until the cloth falls in tatters. The cloth is our nation; the threads are the laws that keep our freedom and rights secure.

Defending freedom against its enemies can be a tricky proposition, because it is often difficult to identify those enemies. They often disguise themselves as protectors of freedom, while modifying the laws that guarantee it until those laws are repealed or made ineffective. But it is unwise to put the fox in charge of protecting the hen house. Politicians often are the enemies within and they are far more dangerous than those who would attack us from the outside, because they will lie cleverly to hide their real intentions. This lying is the first danger against which we must be eternally vigilant, and the greatest liars are almost always the politicians and those who work with them.

These enemies of liberty usually begin by describing grievances that they insist must be addressed. These grievances are always claimed in the interest not of individuals, but of collective groups. Most often these grievances are invented as excuses to pass laws that give government more power and a bigger budget. Political power is always power over people. Politicians are not entitled to power over us. They are elected ONLY to protect our unalienable rights, not to steal them.

To protect ourselves, we must continually remember that our freedom and rights as individuals are not granted by government and must never come into question, no matter what grievance politicians claim they must address. We must always remember that when politicians seek to limit individual rights in favor of some group, they are not really interested in righting wrongs, but merely in gaining more power for themselves.

It is a fundamental principle of free society that each individual citizen’s rights are unalienable. This means that the assertion of collective rights that infringe on the rights of individual liberty, those rights are not legitimate and laws purporting to protect them are equally illegitimate. It is easy to misinterpret this concept, but an example may clarify it. When Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, he did so to free the slaves, not as a collective mass that needed protection, but as individual citizens, each with his own unalienable rights. That is the true meaning of freedom.

Corrupting society’s understanding of rights always comes gradually, so that people do not immediately realize the full negative impact on freedom. Norman Thomas, six times the Presidential candidate of the Socialist Party of America, once stated, “The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of ‘liberalism,’ they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.”

This is why politicians always introduce their proposed changes stealthily in language that is unclear and ambiguous. Some changes are introduced as benefits at first, and only after they take effect are found to be dangerous liabilities. The obligation of every citizen is to guard and protect our unalienable individual rights by refusing to accept “collective rights.” Any changes that lead us away from our free republic into a liberal socialist oligarchy or dictatorship should be shouted down loudly and those who try to destroy the fabric of our freedom should be driven from office by the most powerful tool of every eligible citizen, the vote at the ballot box.

Every American citizen over eighteen is qualified to vote to elect politicians into office. There are exceptions to this rule, such as when someone is incarcerated for committing crimes. Politicians are elected to office to represent the best interests of citizens in legislatures that make laws either supporting or abrogating the freedom and rights of every individual citizen. But we do not vote for laws. We vote for people to make the laws. Therefore, it is the duty of every qualified citizen to vote wisely and to remember that a bad politician will make bad policies, the worst of which can take away their freedom and rights. We must remember that political power is power OVER people. Citizens must elect politicians who will protect their rights and freedom and not elect those who would take them away.

FJ Rocca is an independent, conservative writer/blogger of fiction and non-fiction, most interested in the philosophy of American conservatism. Clarity is more important than eloquence, but truth is vital to human discourse.

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BOOK REVIEW: Lincoln’s Last Days: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever

LincolnsLastDays

This is the first of our book reviews of children’s/teen/young adult literature. We are currently looking for more people to help with this project. Please check out this post to find out more.

This is the young adult version of Bill O’Reilly’s highly successful Killing Lincoln. This book is a great addition to young adult literature.

Lincoln’s Last Days is split into four parts and then further divided into fifty-six chapters. The four parts focus on different aspects of “Lincoln’s last days.” Part one looks at the last days of the end of the Civil War. Part two looks at the conspirators and their planning of the assassination. Part three looks at the day of the assassination. Finally, part four is the chasing of Lincoln’s killers. In addition to the body of the text, there are several additional sections in the back that focus on specific topics.

I really liked the way this book was written. One of the challenges in getting young adults to pick up books on American history is that they are often written like textbooks. This book reads like a narrative story. As mentioned above, the book is split into fifty-six chapters. These chapters are very short, often only two or three pages at times, and they move the reader quickly through the story. One other positive is that this book is full of pictures. For a young reader, these pictures are a huge bonus because they make the history in this book visible. Even as an adult reader, I found myself enjoying the pictures.

Lincoln’s Last Days reminds me a lot of James Swanson’s Chasing Lincoln’s Killer. I read this book a couple of years ago. It also is written in a narrative form. The biggest difference is that it just focuses on the manhunt of John Wilkes Booth.

With its short chapters, engaging writing, and topic that is just interesting to begin with, Lincoln’s Last Days is a great book for any teen/young adult reader. 

Lexile Level: 1020

Listen to the Prologue and Chapter 1 on YouTube:

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Augmented Reality In The Classroom: Aurasma

Submission by Charles Cooper and Jill Compher

The simplest and most fundamental of elements in any sphere of knowledge seem to be the most difficult to explain.  The fundamental may be basic, but it is also the foundation upon which more complex things rest upon.  The atomic is difficult to qualify or quantify because qualities and quantities are based on those essentials.  Most of us can’t imagine, for example, our classrooms without certain crucial tools like electricity, our computers, or that bottle of Tylenol taped to the bottom of our desks. We would like to introduce you to your next crucial tool…Enter: Aurasma (key dramatic music).

Aurasma BB

Aurasma is a game changing app for Apple and Droid products that we absolutely LOVE.  Once you see it in action, ideas will fly out of you so quickly you may want to stop reading now and get something to write with.  The complexity of its application is completely up to how much you want to integrate this app in your lessons.  It is simple to use, but adds so much to your classroom experience.

Originally, Aurasma was developed as an advertising app to add POP to boring paper media advertisements.  If you go to their “campaign” site you’ll see the various companies involved with this project.  Because it was developed first in England, Aurasma is hitting its stride in Europe.  Organizations like the Tottenham Hotspur and Mercedes are using this app to really hook customers.   It has slowly been making its way into the United States.  Recently, Marvel Comics, GQ, HP, and the Rolling Stones have incorporated this augmented reality app into their arsenal of marketing efforts.

Aurasma is a free app that allows the user to tag an image with additional layers of information.  These additional layers can consist of audio, video, or image files. Just like the advertising efforts mentioned above, this app can really draw students into any upcoming or current lesson.  For example, a poster of Abraham Lincoln can be brought to life by layering audio of the reading of the Gettysburg Address, a scene from a Civil War documentary, or a still image related to the Lincoln Presidency.  At this point you may be thinking isn’t that what a “QR Code” does?  Nope!

QR codes are disembodied portals to a destination.  A QR code usually distracts from the image it is layered upon.  Aurasma, however, IS the image.  It allows the operator to use a picture, already useful and full of information, as the portal itself.  This picture then leads to additional information, examples, or interactive documents (via Google Docs, to name one source) that continue the lesson or open it up to higher level prompts or assignments.  A QR code is essentially limited to a single destination point.  With an Aurasma “studio” account (free) you can layer a video on top of ol’ Honest Abe.  Double tap the screen of your device while the video is playing to make it full screen.  Then, with a single tap to the screen the app can send you to a second destination like another video, a website, or an educational platform like Moodle, Angel, or Blackboard (or your very own blog).

Watch this video to see the process in action.

There is only one minor limitation to this app from our experience.  You must establish a “channel” and have other users follow you in order for outsider to have access to your “auras”.  If you tag a political party’s logo with a video of how off-base their political views are, Aurasma will pull up only the tagged video you uploaded.  This delivery system is similar to Twitter in the sense that you only get the messages from people you follow on Twitter.  If multiple people or companies layer a video on that same image, only the videos of the channels you are following will appear.  We’re not sure what happens when multiple channels tag a single image with their own videos, but up to this point, this has not been an issue.

We have incorporated the many uses of Aurasma into a bulletin board that demonstrates its power.  We used Bloom’s Taxonomy as our frame and attached multiple examples from various disciplines.  So, if you are a newcomer to technology in the classroom use Aurasma on Bloom’s Knowledge Level, but if you’re a pro looking to put some pop in your lessons you may want to use Aurasma to target Bloom’s Synthesis Level.

There are two options when creating auras via Aurasma.  You can create and store them in the “private” section or the “public” section.  You will find below instructions for making a “public” aura.  Auras must be public and connected to a channel students are subscribed to for classroom use.

  1. Once you download Aurasma (for free) and register it.  You will press the “A” icon at the bottom of the screen.
  2. You will see a “+” icon at the bottom of this screen.  Press this to create a new aura.
  3. There is a library of preloaded 3-d images and videos you can use or you can create your own.  Let’s assume you want to create your own.  So, next press “device”.
  4. In the upper left hand corner you’ll see a large purple “+”.  Press that.
  5. You can take a new video or image by choosing “Camera”, you can upload a previously taken image or video by choosing “photo album”, or you can upload images or videos from the internet by choosing “blinkx”.  Just for brevities sake, let’s choose a still image you already have on your device.  Press “photo album”.
  6. Once you pick your image or video, you will be given the option to name it.
  7. You will then be prompted with the question “Would you like to create an Aura?”  Choose “ok”.
  8. The “Aura” screen will appear.  The next image you capture will be your “trigger image”.  When Aurasma sees this image, your overlay will appear.  So find something around you that has enough detail for the spectrum indicator at the bottom to move to the “green” side.  This lets you know that Aurasma can “see” it.
  9. Take the picture and Aurasma will give you a preview of your final product.  Push the “>” button to move on.
  10. Name your project.  You have the choice to make it public or private here as well as whether you want to add it to a channel or not.  Remember, channels are how your followers will access your “Auras”, otherwise these are accessible only to you on your device.  For classroom use, choose “public” and add to your classroom channel.
  11. Finally, Aurasma will let you know when your “Aura” is ready to go!  All that is left is to try out your new Aura.
  12. Follow our pre-established channels to see some examples of this in action.  First, in Aurasma, search for and follow Northwest High School, #CoopGovt, and Compher Social Sciences channels.  Next, follow this link to our list of images that will then trigger the overlays (don’t forget; double tap the screen to make the video larger and single tap to go to the next part of the assignment).

http://thrasymakos.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/aurasma-trigger-images/

Aurasma Trigger Images

  1. Or, if you already have Aurasma loaded onto your device, focus on the above “Aurasma Trigger Images” to immediately be sent directly to the multiple other Aurasma examples.

*Charles Cooper (@Thrasymachus) works at Northwest High School in Justin, Texas.  He teaches college and regular ed. government and was awarded the 2012 Humanities Texas Teacher of the Year Award.

*Jill Compher (@JillCompher) works at Northwest High School in Justin, Texas.  She teaches AP Psychology and Sociology.  Jill is an AP Psychology reader for College Board.

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Common Core Is An Insult to Everything Dr. King and President Lincoln Ever Taught

by C.E. White

This past week, President Obama was sworn into office as the 45th President of the United States of America. As a history teacher, I was elated to learn he would be placing his hand on two Bibles, one belonging to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the other belonging to President Abraham Lincoln, when he takes the oath of office to lead our great nation. Dr. King and President Lincoln helped define civil rights for America…historical heroes who transformed the idea of justice and equality.

As jubilant as I am that President Obama is symbolically using the bibles of two of the greatest Americans in our nation’s history, I am saddened that this administration seems to have forgotten what Dr. King and President Lincoln promoted regarding education.

In Dr. King’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” he stated “the goal of America is freedom.” As a teacher, it is such an honor to teach America’s children about freedom and patriotism. However, over the past few years, I began to learn about a new education reform initiative called Common Core Standards. A few years ago, when I first heard of Common Core, I began doing my own research. My students represent the future of the United States of America, and what they learn is of utmost importance to me. I care about their future, and the future of our country.

My research of Common Core Standards kept me awake at night, because what I discovered was so shocking. I discovered that Common Core Standards is about so much more than educational standards. I wanted so badly to believe these changes would be good for our children. How can “common” standards be a bad thing? After all, isn’t it nice to have students learning the same exceptional standards from Alabama to Alaska, from Minnesota to Massachusetts?

As a teacher, I began to spend nights, weekends, summers, even Christmas Day researching Common Core, because these reforms were so massive and were happening so quickly, it was hard to keep up with how American education was being transformed. I quickly began to realize that the American education system under Common Core goes against everything great Americans like Dr. King and President Lincoln ever taught. The very freedoms we celebrate and hold dear are in question when I think of what Common Core means for the United States.

One of my favorite writings about education from Dr. King is a paper entitled “The Purpose of Education.” In it, he wrote “To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.”

When I sit in faculty meetings about Common Core, I hear “curriculum specialists” tell me that Common Core is here to stay and I must “embrace change.” I am forced to drink the kool-aid. These specialists don’t tell us to search for facts about Common Core on our own, they simply tell us what the people paid to promote Common Core want us to know. Didn’t Dr. King want us to separate facts from fiction? Why are we only given information from sources paid to say Common Core is a good thing? Isn’t that the exact same type of propaganda Dr. King discussed in his writings about education? Shouldn’t we discuss why thousands of Americans are calling for a repeal of the standards?

I am told that I must embrace Common Core and I infer that resisting the changes associated with Common Core will label me “resistant to change.” As a teacher, I definitely believe our classrooms are changing with the times and I am not afraid of change. Teachers across America are hearing similar stories about how they should “feel” about Common Core. This is a brainwashing bully tactic. It reminds me of my 8th graders’ lesson on bullying, when I teach them to have an opinion of their own. Just because “everyone’s doing it,” doesn’t make it right. In regards to Common Core, I am not afraid of change. I am just not going to sell-out my students’ education so that Pearson, the Gates Foundation, David Coleman, Sir Michael Barber, Marc Tucker and others can experiment on our children.

I agree with Dr. King, which is why I am so saddened at how propaganda from an elite few is literally changing the face of America’s future with nothing more than a grand experiment called Common Core Standards. Our children deserve more. Our teachers deserve more. Our country deserves more. Education reform is the civil rights issue of our generation, and sadly, parents, teachers, and students have been left out of the process.

President Lincoln once said “the philosophy of the classroom today, will be the philosophy of government tomorrow.” With Common Core, new standardized tests have inundated classrooms with problems of their own. Teachers find themselves “teaching to the test” more and more. These tests violate our states’ rights. I wonder if parents realized that all states aren’t created equal in Common Core tests? Shouldn’t all states, under “common” standards for everyone have everyone’s equal input on how students are tested?

What about privacy under Common Core? Why didn’t local boards of education tell parents about the changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act? Do parents realize their child’s data, including bio-metric data such as fingerprints and retinal scans, is being placed in a state longitudinal data system and shared with others?

If our philosophy of the classroom is to violate states’ rights, use children and teachers as guinea pigs, and hide from parents the fact that their child’s data is no longer private, it can only be inferred that the philosophy of government tomorrow will do the same. What is America becoming?

As I watched President Obama place his hand on the bibles of Dr. King and President Lincoln, the history teacher in me was overjoyed to watch such a patriotic moment in U.S. history. And yet, I was crushed at the realization that if we do not stop Common Core and preserve the United States educational system, the philosophy of our government tomorrow will not be the America we know and love.

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