Danny in College: 1966-1970
- There is a focus on history as well as communication – new and serious questions lead to doubting national leaders.
- There are emerging conflicts nationally that suddenly become very local and personal.
- Reading, media and information management become ways to teach others.
- Some inquiry becomes introverted to satisfy personal questions only – still wondering after all these years.
Questioning and Exploration
Questions and issues that were once academic exercises become very personal.
- Why does there seem to be a failure to use reasonable communication to resolve conflicts?
- Why is there such extensive use of false information in the reporting of the conflict in Viet Nam?
- Has the practice of misleading the public been a common practice among our Presidents and other national leaders throughout our history?
- Are conflicts that seem to be central to the civil rights movement likely to be addressed only when there are economic advantages to do so rather than an understanding and acceptance of basic human equality?
- In what ways might I help students understand the conflicts and accomplishments in American History without always dwelling on wars and military leaders?
- In what ways may I satisfy my own need to know that there are acts of justice that have been performed by leaders and other citizens of my country?
These are difficult questions, and not as easily addressed as those involving facts and definitions. Answers are multiple and may be more or less relevant depending on various factors and situations. Danny’s satisfaction with possible answers will also depend on his own perception of the situation and his personal viewpoint at that time.
Danny lives in a time of political unrest and uncertainty for his country as well as uncertainty for his future. Questions that impact his decisions for his personal future are mixed with concern for his country’s future. Emotion threatens to disrupt a logical process for seeking information to address these concerns.
Exploration of information may involve a long trail linking books, newspapers, news reports, and conversations over time – years, rather than a few weeks or a semester as in grade school and secondary school. These complex questions will need to be examined through reading and reflection on several events and personalities and related to similar events and personalities in history. Clear answers may never come. Additional questions are always likely with each new source explored.
Danny explores the news extensively. He continues to work in radio broadcasting throughout his college years. He consumes reports from national wire services first hand as well as a constant monitoring of local and national news over radio and television.
Assimilation & Inference
Assimilation of new information will not always be clear. Acceptance or rejection of information can easily be based on personal bias as emotion can close the mind to consideration of a wide spectrum of view points. Selection of information resources may also become overly bias as it is normal behavior to read, listen to, or view sources that tend to agree with one’s current viewpoint. To move outside of a comfortable information environment can be threatening, frustrating and time consuming. But if Danny is to demonstrate mature information inquiry skills, he will need to be open to all information sources.
Discrimination is used, however, to select sources which are relevant and/or authoritative. He will give time to information presented by those he may not agree with, but who are clearly personalities relevant to the issue at hand. He does not care for General William Westmoreland or Secretary of Defense William McNamara, for example, but will listen to details from them in interviews and press conferences concerning the conflict in Vietnam.
Maintaining this willingness to listen to various view points is very difficult, and Danny will often refuse to give reasonable attention to sources that conflict with his own ideas. Assimilation and inference are difficult for the novice to manage because they may not understand how to be open and tolerant. Experience and emotion can be factors that prevent the more mature learner from maintaining reasonable consideration of new information.
Thinking globally and acting locally becomes one of several mottos of the day that help to organize and focus Danny’s information consumption. Realistically, it is unlikely his exploration of information, assimilation of knowledge and inferences for actions will have any global impact. But he can influence things locally.
Danny can contribute on a national basis by supporting those people and those actions he deems correct through donation of money, time to support local protest or awareness, and writing or speaking in local forums. His information inquiry skills will be valuable to help him identify information needs and relevant sources that will support his actions.
Skills. Danny has learned how to access materials that will, when placed together, represent a wide spectrum of view points on a controversial issue. He understands how to identify issues and to summarize them in terms that focus on problems and potential resolutions. He knows how to work with groups, to delegate and share responsibilities and to collaborate in order to achieve resolution of problems. Information inquiry is a process that cam satisfy professional as well as personal information needs.
Strategies and Scaffolding. Danny seeks involvement in situations were his may help resolve conflicts and create plans for improving situations. In college he served on student and community relations committees. As a high school history teacher, he served as a representative of the teacher union. During his career in higher education he has served on long-range planning committees for universities, professional associations, as well as local churches and community agencies. With each experience he has refined strategies. He has learned to adapt to different audience needs and expectations.
Realizations. Danny can teach others the limitations and potential abuse of power that can result from unquestioned delivery of information through the mass media and political manipulation. These issues remain of interest to him in his academic career and his personal reading. Group discussion, debate and conflict resolution are information management skills he can apply to local situations. He can take logical steps to confront conflicts and resolve them through discussions, compromise and finding joint benefit in shared resolutions. Such can be accomplished in his work, his community and his family.
Information Literacy Standards (Selected from Information Power, AASL, 1998)
* Seeks sources representing a variety of contexts, disciplines, and cultures and evaluates their usefulness for resolving an information problem or question.
* Evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of various creative presentations of information.
* Reads avidly and evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the literature used.
* Judges the quality of one’s own information products and solutions related to topics of personal interest.
* Integrates one’s own previous knowledge with information from a variety of sources to create new meaning.
* Judges and supports judgments of the degree of inaccuracy, bias, or misleading information in information sources and products.
* Judges the accuracy, relevance, and completeness of sources and information in relation to a range of topics and information problems.
- Understands why it is important for citizens to monitor their local, state, and national governments; and knows ways people can monitor the decisions and actions of their government such as reading about public issues, watching television news programs, discussing public issues, and communicating with public officials.
- Understands major contemporary social issues and the groups involved.
- Seek evidence to confirm or disconfirm alternatives; develop better alternatives; seek opinion of others in considering alternatives.
- Be open-minded; strive to understand and consider divergent views; develop reliable and relevant criteria for making judgments.
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning – Content Knowledge
Developing Education Standards
National Center for Education Statistics. 1995. National Assessment of College Student Learning. U.S. Department of Education.
Times Have Changed
Topics. Over the past four decades, Danny has focused his reading on books and other resources that inform him of new perspectives on the history of America. Many times these are materials that open a new line of consideration, but a common thread is how conflict resolution or failure to find resolution impacted events in American History. His reading interests have been wide and varied in some ways, but remain focused on local and American history. Biographies are often the most enjoyable format, especially concerning historical personalities who have had to face conflict resolution and have become prominent in history because of their unlikely successes or common human failures.
Although times have changed and the sources of information have expanded through technology, issues of conflict and resolution continue.
Technology Tools. Although paper and pencil can be great tools for visualizing thoughts, today's technology tools would be useful in helping Danny in visualize his thinking, data organization, and results. For example, Inspiration software can be used to create a question exploration ring.
Click the image below to view a template for a Question Exploration Ring in Inspiration.
Highly recommended from the hundreds of books Danny has read on conflict and communication in American history:
Allen, Steve. Meeting of Minds.
Ambrose, Stephen E. Undaunted Courage.
Burke, James. Connections.
Ellis, Joseph J. American Sphinx.
Freidel, Frank. A Rendezvous with Destiny.
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream.
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. No Ordinary Time.
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Team of Rivals.
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates: The First Complete, Unexpurgated Text.
Loewen, James W. Lies My Teacher Told Me
McGinnis, Joe. The Selling of the President.
McMaster, H. R. Dereliction of Duty: Lies That Led to Vietnam.
McNamara, Robert S. In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam.
McPherson, James M. Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution.
Melton, Buckner F. Aaron Burr: Conspiracy to Treason.
Paine, Thomas. Common Sense.
White, Theodore. Making of the President, 1960.
Wiencek, Henry. An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves
Williams, Juan. Eyes on the Prize.
Woodward, Bob and Carl Bernstein. All the President’s Men.