Presidency: A Virtual Overview
By Michael Hutchison, Teacher
Possibly no political office in history is more known or visible
than the President of the United States. Often in the study of US
History, we find ourselves reflecting on the American story in terms
of presidential administrations (Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal
combated the problems of the Great Depression; President Richard
Nixon's administration was shattered by Watergate; the Civil War
was fought during Abraham Lincoln's term of office; etc.) Since
the presidency is such an important part of American culture and
history, it is important for our students to understand the office,
the men who have held the office, and how the office is obtained.
The purposes of this module include a discussion of issues related
to using the Internet in social studies classroom projects, as well
as a listing of some related resources and activities teachers may
use in their classrooms regarding U.S. presidents. A demonstration
tour is also provided for students.
Why a module on the US Presidency?
The American Presidency is an office unique in world history. Very
few nations have a governmental system which allows ANYONE to become
the leader of the country, in this case, one of the most powerful
in the world. In the past century alone, the White House has been
occupied by the son of a Presbyterian minister, a peanut farmer,
a failed haberdasher, a former actor, a high school teacher, and
the son of a failed California lemon rancher.
The framers of the Constitution probably could not have envisioned
the level that the president currently influences world and domestic
affairs, especially the power to use nuclear weapons. The framers
also would probably never have dreamt that presidents would be the
subject of intense scrutiny of their health, backgrounds, and personal
lives. Therefore, it's important that our students become aware
of the office, and the people who occupy it. They need to know about
presidential successes and failures, and recognize that the office
and the presidents themselves shape our country, our government,
our lives, and our futures.
Resources and project strategies:
One important aspect to any online project or simulation is that
of preparation. Teachers need to be aware that at best, the Internet
can be described as a "work in development". Though I
have selected sites for you to visit, keep in mind that sites that
are here today may be gone (or moved somewhere else) tomorrow. My
suggestion is -- if a link proves to be "dead", a web
search might uncover a new location for the desired site. For more
information on searching the Internet, take a look at the "Lounge"
section of Field Trips Site and explore, "Short Course: Searching
the Web with Altavista."
Now, please feel free to explore and use the field
trip and Teacher's Resources on the presidency.