High School Level - Early American History: Native Americans through the Forty-Niners (Repost)
Professor Thompson's history program at Bellflower High School in the suburbs of Los Angeles has attracted international attention for its creativity and innovation. "History is a blast!" and "He makes history come alive!" are just some of the comments collected from his students.
Every lesson in the course is "taught" by a particular character. Professor Thompson has an arsenal of costumes, as well as a firm grasp on the personae of great historical figures. He dresses, talks, and acts like them. He actually becomes them!
Lin Thompson appears only briefly at the start of this course. He then "becomes" Bjarni Herjolfsson, Viking explorer and incomparable expert on who really discovered America. From that moment, students will know they are in for a fascinating trip as Bjarni gives way to Christopher Columbus, revolutionary war foot soldiers, a French trapper, and a host of other characters who provide a first-person perspective on early American history.
A New Look for American History
Professor Thompson’s characters will inspire students to look at history from a new perspective. Professor Thompson’s guides, while entertaining, will also teach the student to better understand American history. Students will learn:
To differentiate between Southwest and Eastern Woodland Native Americans
What led Europeans such as Columbus to the New World
The roles European powers—Spain, England, France, and the Netherlands—played in their colonies and how those colonies interacted
The roles of religious groups in American history, such as the Quakers, Puritans, Catholics, and Mormons
The economic and civil injustices that planted the seeds of revolution in the colonists' minds
The struggles and farsightedness of Founding Fathers Jefferson, Hamilton, Franklin, and others in the creation of this new nation
The challenges in foreign policy that beleaguered the young nation: the French Revolution, the XYZ Affair, and subsequent Alien and Sedition Acts
How canals and railroads accelerated the expansion West.
He's such an entertaining presenter that students learn without effort. Every lecture is delivered in costume and in character. They just sit back, relax, and learn.
Here is Professor Thompson's description of the course:
"America's history begins with an overview of Pre-Columbian Native Americans and the impact of subsequent European discovery. Our study explores the exciting eras of colonization, independence, and the forging of a young nation. We end with the settling of the American frontier as an emerging nation stretches from sea to shining sea.
"Many of the characters I portray in these lectures are actual historical figures. Other composite characters can be distinguished by the use of my name, i.e., 'USA Thompson,' 'Hickory Thompson,' etc. Remember that the lecturers from each period will share certain attitudes and biases while sharing the story of their day. It is important that you gain a truly historical perspective by reading and studying these same incidents as recorded and analyzed in various articles and books.
"To assist you in this part of your studies, I have provided a large list of books at the end of the course outline. In each lesson, I have listed books that will help you dig a little deeper and understand a lot more about the topic that I portray on the tape. Some are called 'essential,' which means that you should try to get a copy and read the chapters noted to get the most out of the lecture.
"Others are 'strongly recommended' or 'suggested.' This means that they would be valuable to check out but are not necessary for a basic understanding of the topic, if you have looked at the essential book(s). They might focus on just one particular part of the lecture, or maybe they're a little bit more advanced than the 'essential' book.
"By referring to as many of the recommended books as possible, you will challenge yourself to develop your skills as a reader and researcher, which are good skills to have as you advance through your schooling toward college.
"American history is a rich story of the events that have shaped modern American society. Allow the stories to transport you back in time to the initial shaping of a nation with diverse cultural roots. I love American history! I hope you will love it too."