Exams for an Aborted Semester
Dear Students of American Civilization,
We have been involved in a prolonged movement of self-defense at our University in Grenoble, and proudly part of the nation-wide movement to defend French public education. The dangers of privatizing French education and charging students many thousands of euros, forcing millions of French families to borrow money from Banks in order to assure an education for the children they love, is a very real danger. It will hurt everyone except the bankers and the future employers who will hire the debt-ridden students for low wages, as "willing" victims who must pay back their bank debts no matter what the conditions of their employment. This new system is akin to slavery, and we are proud to be a part of the resistance movement against it.
If this battle is lost (and as I write, 2 May 2009, the outcome is still unknown) the war for democracy and against the introduction of debt-slavery in France is not over, and you will be expected to take your exams this semester, despite the fact that classes met only twice over the past 12 weeks.
Below are the American civilization Mid-Term and Final Exam questions for spring semester 2009: "Early American History"; "Contemporary U.S. History"; and the parcours, "Historiography and Methodology in American Civilization". Each student should write no more than 4 pages for his/her exam question. When completed at home, exams should be returned, in paper form, to my mailbox in the Salle des Enseignants, C-307, at Stendhal University before the end of May.
EARLY AMERICAN HISTORY
Explain in you own words the meaning of Eugene Genovese's statement: "Even for the white race the conquest of the continent from the Indians, their expulsion as well as their slaughter, had a fearful consequences." (In your short essay, be sure to explain the important consequences of American conquest and why you do or do not agree with Professor Genovese's statement.)
Using the documents for this course and the chapters in Zinn, compare and contrast the Spanish colonial system and the English colonial system.
CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN HISTORY
Using the documents we discussed in the first week of this course, explain the meaning of the following quotes from "Teaching Moral Values in the Schools":
"In essence, moral conflicts are conflicts between the claims of persons, and principles for resolving these claims are principles of justice, "for giving each his due." Central to justice are the demands of liberty, equality, and reciprocity. At every moral stage there is a concern for justice. The most damning statement a school child can make about a teacher is that "he's not fair." At each higher stage, however, the conception of justice is reorganized."
--excerpt from Lawrence Kohlberg.
"It is hard to articulate fairly the position of the anti-indoctrinators. Although they are against indoctrination, they provide no clear answer as to how children are given many real choices in a relatively immutable world necessarily maintained by adults. The anti-indoctrinators also do not say what adults are to do when children's value choices and resulting potential conduct are clearly harmful to them and others. After all, punishments for bad value choices are, in effect, forms of indoctrination. And the idea of presenting pupils with any particular approach to moral education in a school is inherently indoctrinative. . . ."
--excerpt from Edward Wynne.
Explain why you do or do not agree with the following statement by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman: "It is a primary function of the mass media in the United States to mobilize public support for the special interests that dominate the Government and the private sector."
HISTORIOGRAPHY AND METHODOLOGY IN AMERICAN CIVILIZATION
Read the below statements a.) by Noam Chomsky, in the Introduction of his book, "Turning the Tide," and b.) by Pierre Bourdieu, in his book "La misère du monde". Explain what the two authors mean by these statements and give an example from your own life experiences to illustrate these ideas.
a.) "We live entangled in webs of endless deceit, often self-deceit, but with a little honest effort, it is possible to extract ourselves from them. If we do, we will see a world that is rather different from the one presented to us by a remarkably effective ideological system, a world that is much uglier, often horrifying. We will also learn that our own actions, or passive acquiescence, contribute quite substantially to misery and oppression, and perhaps eventual global destruction."
b.) "Le monde politique s'est fermé peu à peu sur soi, sur ses rivalités internes, ses problèmes et ses enjeux propres: Comme les grands tribuns, les hommes politiques capables de comprendre et d'exprimer les attentes et les revendications de leurs électeurs se fond de plus en plus rares, et ils sont loin d'être au premier plan dans leurs formations. Les futurs dirigeants se désignent dans les débats de télévision ou les conclaves d'appareil. Les gouvernants sont prisonniers d'un entourage rassurant de jeunes technocrates qui ignorent souvent à peu prés tout de la vie quotidienne de leurs concitoyens et à qui rien ne vient rappeler leur ignorance."
I remind you that your response to the exam question should be no more than 4 pages in length.
Grenoble, 2 May 2009