Inquiry Lesson Why was the Vietnam War so Controversial? Kimberly Gombosi October 28, 2012 Prepared for Grade 12 U.S. History
OVERVIEW In March of 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson sent the first U.S. combat troops into South Vietnam to fight the spread of Communism from North. The casualties of this long war, from both sides, were extensive and brutal due to guerilla warfare and the use of chemical weapons. This information was televised in detail, sparking anti-war movements and weakening the morale of Americans fighting in Vietnam. Also known as “America’s Longest War,” U.S. involvement in Vietnam War did not end until 1973. Although the United States won the war in a numerical sense, having far less casualties than North Vietnam, the U.S. did not accomplish what they had set out to do. The Communist North took control of South Vietnam. Students will critically analyze the primary and secondary sources provided in order to generate hypotheses and formulate and support a conclusion to the inquiry question: Why was the Vietnam War so controversial? RATIONALE It is important for students to engage in this inquiry lesson because it discusses vital issues related to citizenship in a democratic society. Key issues/values discussed might include the promotion of democracy, human rights, justice, patriotism, and the freedoms of speech and assembly. During the Vietnam War, many of these values came into conflict with one another. This lesson will challenge students to confront the problems associated with conflicting values, which is an issue that is relevant in democratic societies today. AUDIENCE This inquiry lesson targets 11 th or 12 th grade U.S. History students. This inquiry lesson requires students to be able to think critically and have the ability to analyze and extract meaning from data sets containing primary and secondary sources. With modification to the data sets, this inquiry lesson could be implemented successfully in a 9 th or 10 th grade U.S. History or Global Perspectives classroom, assuming that students have adequate background knowledge to be able to engage in meaningful discussion. OBJECTIVES By engaging in this inquiry lesson, students will: • Identify multiple causes and effects of the Vietnam War (B.12.15). • Identify possible reasons for controversy surrounding the Vietnam War by constructing reasonable hypotheses (B.12.1, B.12.15). • Analyze and critically evaluate multiple primary and secondary sources as a means of supporting, refuting, or generating new hypotheses (B.12.2). • Verbally and in writing, present evidence to either support or refute a particular viewpoint or perspective regarding controversies of the Vietnam War (B.12.1).