Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Immigration in America, Schools and Stuff.

This week, the task was to find a K-12 website, dealing with the history of Immigration in the 19th and early 20th century in America. Mainly it was to see how American curriculum's deal with the issue of Immigration and what sort of way it is presented to the students in the class. The first thing to do was try to find a website that would be sufficient for the task at hand. But I did find this website that is a planned Simulation activity for the class about Immigration. It can be found here.

So looking at this website, it gives an overview of the history of Immigration, throughout the history of America. It touches upon the reasons why the Irish and German left their countries, with this well put together line "
New arrivals came from several European countries during this period, but most came from Ireland and Germany, where devastating crop failures forced many residents to leave their homelands." It details the numbers of immigrants living in New York, and the fact that it was mainly populated by immigrants and their American-born children. It goes onto say that America's growing industrial economy needed more workers, which then again needs more people for work. Thus it details another influx of immigrants from Europe. In this brief overview, it does say "Like their Irish predecessors, most of these new arrivals were poor and uneducated. Many were peasants from rural regions who were being pushed out by Europe's industrial revolution." This is actually touching upon the conditions of the immigrants and the fact that they were not accustomed to the life that America held for them. One thing it does not touch upon are the restrictions of that America put on immigration during the early 20th century, such as the prohibition of Chinese people into the country. It also does not detail the situations of new immigrants, and their conditions that they lived in. Though it does suggest that immigration has steadily reason since the 60s where it picked up again after the second World War.

The website also has issues for the students to consider, such as
  • How many immigrants should we continue to admit?
  • Should we continue our present policy of one general quota, or should future immigration be restricted to specific nations and/or races?
  • On what criteria should we base these policy decisions?
  • How should we enforce these policy decisions?
These issues, are mostly based on what to do about immigration in the present day. It also states in the paragraph above it "Although immigration provides one of the most colorful chapters in our country's history, it has also brought a host of problems which have not been so easily resolved. For example, cultural differences and language barriers among different ethnic groups have frequently given rise to hostilities between them. Also, immigrants' inability to quickly assimilate themselves to the norms of mainstream American social life have often prevented them from realizing the economic advancement they sought when they left their homelands." Which to be honest, are issues that immigrants have faced throughout history, I think that in order to learn about today's immigration policies and how to solve some problems that deal with immigration today, the students would obviously have to learn about the immigration history of early 20th century and the late 19th century.

The actual activity that the students have to do all this research for is some sort of hearing, with each student playing a different part. And by that I mean each student has a different position that they have to present, argue and defend to the other students. This is actually quite interesting as the task is getting the student to research about immigration (the history, the policies and the current situation) and present it to an audience who all have done their own research and may have different opinion or facts to the other. But in my opinion this task, is relying on the student to do the work, and they may gloss over the important facts of the actual immigrants lives. In a way, they are learning about immigration, but I feel that they are mostly concentrated on trying to solve problems today, instead of learning about the history of their country and descendants.

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