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Teacher's Guide: Suggestions for Active Learning

Rescued soldiers Bataan Rescue offers insights into American history topics including World War II in the Pacific theater, military strategy and special operations, first-person accounts of war, heroism, war prisoners and the Geneva Conventions, American imperialism, and U.S.-Filipino relations. You can use part or all of the film, or delve into the rich resources available on this Web site to learn more, either in a classroom or on your own.

The following activities are grouped into 4 categories: geography, economics, history, and civics. You can also read a few helpful hints for completing the activities


History | Civics | Geography | Economics

  1. Divide the class into two groups; assign one group World War II in Europe and the other group World War II in the Pacific. Each group should make a list of the most important dates in its theater of the war and assign each of these events to a different member of the group, who is responsible for explaining the importance of the event and pointing out its location on a world map. When both groups have finished their lists, have the members of each group describe to the class the event they were assigned. Then, as a class, select the most important five events in each theater of the war and create a single timeline listing those events.

  2. Read the interview with journalist Stanley Karnow on America and the Philippines. The United States acquired the Philippines from Spain following the Spanish-American War of 1898, but only after an intense debate within the United States. Likewise, the recent issue of whether to use force to remove Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq was widely debated in the United States (and in other countries). Divide the class into groups of four students each. Within each group, one student should find statements by public figures giving three different arguments in support of annexing the Philippines, while a second student finds statements giving three different arguments against annexation; similarly, the remaining two students should find statements for and against the use of force against Iraq. Each group should prepare two two-column charts with the opposing arguments on each issue placed side-by-side. When all groups are complete, post the charts around the room so the other groups can read them. Then, as a class, discuss the following questions: How are the issues and arguments in the two debates similar? How are they different?

  3. As the film explains, Japanese atrocities against POWs arose in part out of the belief among many Japanese soldiers that a soldier who surrendered was not worthy of respect. As a class, find out more about this belief and its possible effects on the war. Begin by choosing a specific topic and presenting it to your teacher for approval. For example, you might want to research particular battles to compare the number of Japanese soldiers who died in battle to the number who surrendered. Alternatively, you might want to find out about Bushido (the code of conduct followed by Japanese warriors of earlier centuries), the suicidal kamikaze attacks on American ships in the latter stages of the war, or the question of why the Japanese as a nation ultimately did agree to surrender. When your research is complete, report to the class on your findings.


History | Civics | Geography | Economics

  1. Watch the video of Ranger training and read a profile of Lieutenant Colonel Henry Mucci and his Rangers. Just as an elite military force -- the U.S. Army Rangers -- was assigned to liberate the POW "ghost soldiers," the armed forces today have several specially trained and equipped units to undertake hazardous missions. Working with a partner, find out more about an aspect of these elite units that interests you, and present your findings to the class. Possible topics include: missions carried out by these forces in some other conflict (such as the Vietnam War, the attempted rescue of the American hostages in Iran, or the recent war in Iraq), the history of the Rangers, the training that elite units must undergo, or the equipment and weapons they use.

  2. Read a profile of Japanese commander Masaharu Homma. In addition to the Manila trials mentioned in the reading, the Allies also held major war crimes trials in Germany and Japan for a number of high-ranking officials of those countries. More recently, war crimes trials have been held following conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The courts that tried these cases were temporary courts; in 1998, more than 100 nations signed a treaty to create a permanent court, called the International Criminal Court (ICC), with the authority to try war crimes. The U.S. government has since declared that it does not intend to accept the ICC's authority.

    Divide the class into five groups and assign each group one of the four major temporary war crimes courts or the ICC. Groups responsible for one of the four temporary courts should report to the class on (a) the conflict during which the crimes were committed, (b) the kinds of crimes of which the defendants were accused, and (c) the outcome of the trials. The group responsible for the ICC should report to the class on the concerns raised by the United States about the ICC. After all groups have made their presentations, discuss as a class whether the United States should join the ICC.


History | Civics | GeographyEconomics

  1. Read prisoners' diseases. Divide into groups of two students each. One student should draw a map showing the route of the Bataan death march. (The map should focus on the area of the Philippines in which the march took place. To the side of the map, create a smaller "locator map" of the Philippines as a whole, with a box indicating the specific area shown in the map.) The other student should research the climate, terrain, and vegetation of that part of the Philippines to find information that helps explain why the prisoners suffered so terribly on the march and in the prison camp, and then present that information on the map.

  2. Create a map entitled "United States Involvement in the Pacific and East Asia in the Twentieth Century." On the map, label (a) Hawaii, (b) the Philippines, (c) Wake Island, (d) Guadalcanal, (e) Midway Island, (f) Iwo Jima, (g) Okinawa, (h) Japan, (i) South Korea, (j) Vietnam. Next to each of these locations, list the event or events that were most important with regard to the United States during the 1900s.


History | Civics | Geography | Economics

  1. Read about Japanese atrocities in the Philippines. While Japanese soldiers treated their prisoners with both brutality and neglect, it is also true, as Hampton Sides notes in his book Ghost Soldiers, that "many of the Imperial Army soldiers were themselves desperately hungry and ravaged by the same diseases that ravaged their captives." In your opinion, what is an army's responsibility toward enemy prisoners in such a situation? When food and medicine are in short supply, should they be distributed among captors and prisoners solely on the basis of need, or is an army entitled to use most or all of its scarce supplies for itself? Also, would your answer to this question be influenced by the larger context of the war -- for example, are prisoners who fought for an evil government entitled to the same treatment as prisoners who fought for a less-objectionable government? Discuss these questions as a class and outline on the board the different possible policies a government might adopt on this question, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each. When you have finished, vote to choose the policy that you believe is the best.

  2. In 1940-1941, the United States used economic weapons -- most notably, an embargo on the sale of oil -- in an unsuccessful effort to restrain Japanese aggression in Asia. In the 1990s, the United States tried to use economic leverage to restrain North Korea from building nuclear weapons. Divide the class into groups of two to four students each. Each group should imagine that it is spring 2003 and President Bush has asked them to advise him on whether economic leverage would be an effective tool to use against North Korea. Have group members research the goals and outcome of (a) the economic measures the United States took against Japan, and (b) the economic agreement the United States and North Korea signed in 1994. Then write a memo for the President that gives the group's opinion on whether economic tools would be effective in the case of North Korea. Your memo must refer to the lessons you have learned from the example of the 1940s.



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