In social studies this past week we reviewed the Declaration of Independence as well as the American Revolution. As a class, we tackled some difficult questions about the rights of the government and the rights of the governed.
The World’s Greatest Break-Up Letter
We started class with reading the Declaration of Independence as a break-up letter and asking ourselves a few essential questions:
- Why was the Declaration of Independence necessary for the colonies to write?
- Who delivered the Declaration to King George and what must that have felt like?
- How might King George have felt?
We then analyzed two different perspectives: the colonists and King George. For the colonists’ perspective we watched a video “It’s Too Late to Apologize” and for King George’s perspective, we listened to “You’ll Be Back” from the Hamilton soundtrack. We discussed the position King George was in and whether or not the colonists were wrong for revolting.
Was the American Revolution a Civil War?
We asked ourselves an important question:
Did the colonists have the right to go to war with Britain?
We discussed the idea that had France not recognized the colonist’s independence, then the American Revolution could have very well been considered a Civil War. Had the colonies not been recognized as being independent of Britain then the American Revolution could have been considered a British Civil War. This brought us to our discussion on the somewhat recent resignation of Otto Pérez Molina, the former Guatemalan president who was overthrown by the citizens of Guatemalan in 2015. While this political upheaval didn’t result in a war in Guatemala, it did begin a political revolution. As a class, we cross-referenced the similarities and differences between the 18th century American colonists and 21st Guatemalans.
What if I don’t agree with all of the Declaration of Independence?
We ended our discussion of the Declaration with reviewing the basic principles outlined in the document. Students reviewed the four basic principles of the document and had to decide if they agreed with those principles of not. For each principle, the student was given a choice to sign off on the sections they agreed with. To our surprise, only a few students agreed with every principle. The rest of the students wanted more information before they were willing to give certain principles their “okay”.
Overall, it was a good start to the school year in 8th grade U.S. history. In the upcoming weeks, we will be learning about Washington, Adams, and their presidencies.
Get pumped for some more from the Hamilton soundtrack!