Thursday, May 31, 2012

Week 3- Question Reponses (#3)

Garland simply stated that less than 1% of inmates on death row are actually executed. The statistics show that (some states do not follow this pattern) executions since 1976 are far less than the number of inmates on death row per state. I cannot say for sure since I have never been through an experience like this, but I feel that families would heal differently and may gain retributive justice other ways, besides wanting offenders to be put to death. I am sure that some families do not feel justice until the offender is killed, depending on the severity of the crime (which is obviously high if they are on death row) and their views on capital punishment. However, some families may be happy just knowing the offender is spending the rest of their live in jail, which will not be very easy. I honestly cannot answer how I feel because I certainly would not be able to kill someone or watch someone being killed.     

Week 3- "Peculiar Institutions: America's Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition" Reading

Peculiar Institutions: America’s Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition by David Garland has been my favorite read this summer. Garland believes that the death penalty is a way for people to release their rage on people who committed horrible crimes through local capital punishments. I have to admit that I have struggled with the idea of capital punishment and my personal stance on the controversial issue, but I have never really come to a conclusion. I found it very interesting that less than 1% of people on death row are executed. According to Garland, one of the main agreements for capital punishment is it provides a sense of relief to the families of the victim (and perhaps a town, as was exemplified with the killings in Gainesville mentioned in the Preface of the book). Garland states on page 287 “The gratifications it (capital punishment) produces becomes sources of energy that drive and sustain the system.” It seems to me that capital punishment is around merely to provide retributions to not only the families, but also the public that hear about many horrible cases on the news.
This topic is very relevant today because this is a controversial topic that is being discussed and being used in today’s society. It is important for students to understand how capital punishment in the past has shaped what capital punishment is today. Is it necessary? Are there other ways to handle horrible cases? These are the questions they will face in their generation as capital punishment takes on new forms.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Week 2- Question Reponse (#7)

There is no question that home ownership is the “American Dream.” If people did not want to buy houses, then there would be no reason for the increased growth of mortgage-backed-securities and other financial investments. Financial institutions would not have had to move away from traditional 30-year mortgages or expand into “shady areas,” because if someone could not afford a home they would simply rent an apartment, or buy something affordable, not look into a quick fix for buying a house.
For these reasons, I do feel that too much emphasis is placed on home ownership. People should feel like they are “living the dream” no matter where they live or if they own a home or rent their home. I do not think that homeownership should be a priority on a national policy level.   

Week 2- "All the Devils are Here" reading

 I found the reading for this week to be a very insightful read on the economic/financial crisis of 2008. However, I must be honest and state that I also found it to be very confusing. Most of the information in All the Devil are Watching  was over my head, as I have little background knowledge in economics and the crisis. Therefore, it is hard for me to write about something that is still very confusing. Despite the all of this confusion, I did find parts of the book to be very interesting. The book explains the factors that led up to the crisis, starting in the late 1970s when the Baby Boomers were starting to buy houses. Economists were afraid that there was not enough money to fund all the mortgages people were taking out, so the Mortgage-Backed Security was formed, as well as Sub-Prime Mortgages and Credit Default Swaps. It fascinates me that people actually thought that CDS (passing the risk of default onto a 3rd party) and Sub-Prime Mortgages (lending money to people who could not afford a regular mortgage plan) were a good idea and would not harm anyone, including the economy. It seems like many people during this time were concerned with making money themselves, and not about the people who they were supplying with mortgages and a dream of owning a home. It also interested me that the government did not know how bad off these companies were and that they would have to bail them out! Regulation of some sort needs to occur!
This whole topic has present-day relevance to my practice as a secondary school social studies educator. It seems to me that this crisis will still be occurring when I get a job and many students may have questions about how the crisis started. As with other crises in history (i.e. The Great Depression) many of them are comprised of many factors. It is important for students to understand that it takes time for things to “build up and explode” today, as well as in the past. For an American History teacher, comparing the economic/financial crisis of today to the Great Depression may allow students to see how complex many issues are and help them relate past events to the future.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Week 1- Readings

One of the readings that I found interesting this week was The Clearing House by Susan R. Cramer, particularly the section entitled Twenty-First-Century Learning on pages 128-129. This section discusses how important it is for teachers to incorporate technology into their classroom and that twenty-first-century tools need to be used to develop learning skills. This section challenges teachers to move away from the traditional whole-class structure and mastering basic skills, to focusing on authentic instruction and assessment.

In the world in which we live today, I think that this is very ideal and necessary. I think that this idea relates to teachers today because the students we are going to teach have not known a world without technology, so why not incorporate it into the classroom? A higher education is needed in today’s world to get a great job, and teachers need to be preparing students to succeed. Students need to learn beyond “the basics” and become challenged and learn to think critically. As stated in this section, learning objects and technology work together to allow students to think critically and engage in real-world discussions. Authentic instruction and assessment involves engaging students through discussion about the topic and posing questions that have value beyond school. Whether teachers plan for it or not, discussion about real-world events will occur in the classroom. Teachers can use technology to help create a context in which students can learn and develop critical thinking.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Welcome to my blog for SSE 6046, Social Studies Perspectives! Enjoy!