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AS/A2 History Teaching

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#91 Guest_Nick Dennis_*

Guest_Nick Dennis_*
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Posted 18 August 2008 - 06:02 PM

I'm including the outline for the Vietnam unit I taught. You can see that it has a mixture of student prep and teacher led discussions - hopefully it will be of some use to people.

Reading list and course outline for the Vietnam unit. Paper copies will be available alongside the first reading. They will both be in your pigeonholes for you to collect.

World History -Vietnam
Alternative H Unit 4

The unit is based upon three key questions:

1) Why and how did the USA become increasingly involved in the internal affairs of South Vietnam? (US Motives 1954-1970)

2) What were the objectives of the Vietcong and how far were they shared by the people of South Vietnam? (Bao Dai/Diem’s rule, US support for the regimes, nature of North Vietnamese ideology)

3) Why did the USA fail in Vietnam and what were the consequences of this failure? (Johnson, Nixon and defeat in 1975)

Unit Texts
There are a number of books available on Vietnam and they will all be useful. However, the teaching/reading for the unit will be based on two books, one being the core text and the other being the recommended text.

The core text is ‘Vietnam, Korea and US foreign policy 1945-1975’ by Christine Bragg (Heinemann) ISBN 0-435-32708-9

The recommended text is ‘The USA and Vietnam 1945-75’ by Vivienne Saunders (Access to History) ISBN 0-340-80430-0

I recommend that you watch Oliver Stone’s film ‘Platoon’.

The course will follow a strict format. One lesson each week will be a lecture where you will be given the basic knowledge on the topic for that week. The other two lessons will be a seminar/discussion group/teaching class. In order for this to work, the set reading and questions must be completed. Failure to complete work will mean that you will be asked to leave the lesson and finish the set work in the Reading Room before you can return to class and a letter will be sent home explaining why you were asked to leave the class. Your reports will reflect your preparation and participation in class as well as your written work. Failure to contribute in class will mean a lowered effort grade.

Submission of work

Essays are to be submitted in two ways:

• Via email to me
• A printed copy to be given personally to me with the date, your name and a word count.

Essays are to be formatted (double space between the each line) and you must include footnotes and a bibliography. Essays will be unmarked unless they conform to these standards.

Notices/Important information
To facilitate a quick exchange of information please use the following:

Via http://drdennis.edublogs.org
Via email:
Via Twitter:

All emails sent and received by me are kept on a central server to ensure security and an appropriate level of communication.

Presdales Library has a number of resources to help you deepen your understanding of the unit. The library has three copies of ‘Vietnam: The 10,000 day war’ that can be borrowed. Copies are limited and we would ask all students to return copies as soon as possible.

A series of lectures from the University of California, Berkeley can be downloaded via iTunes. A number of podcasts are also available and all of these audio files are also on the school network in the shared area.

Short loan articles
There will be a number of articles or chapters of books that will be made available for short loan. These articles/chapters are in great demand so they must be returned the next day. Severe fines will be levied for late returns.


The library has a limited number of texts on Vietnam so we advise that you purchase the core text and use the library texts to supplement your knowledge.

Capps, W (Ed.) The Vietnam Reader (Routledge)
Edwards, O The USA and the Cold War (Hodder and Stoughton)
Karnow, S Vietnam: A History (Penguin)
Kissinger, H Ending the Vietnam War (Simon and Schuster)
Vadney, T.E. The World Since 1945 (Penguin)

Unit Outline

1. Overview/The Nature of resistance in Vietnam
2. The French and Indochina
3. How and why did Truman aid the French in Indochina?
4. Geneva Conference and Eisenhower
5. Diem’s regime (I)
6. Kennedy’s Crusade? 1961-1963
7. Diem’s regime (II)
8. US Foreign Policy, Johnson and the war 1963-1965
9. Johnson and the escalation of the war 1965-68
10. Nixon (I)
11. Nixon (II)
12. Why could the USA not win? (I)
13. Why could the USA not win? (II)
14. Historiography of the Vietnam war
15. Conclusions –American ontologies and their consequences in Vietnam

Seminar/Discussion/Teaching Preparation
Each seminar has a set reading. This is a minimum requirement for participation. The questions are set to help you understand the topic and will form the basis for class presentations and discussions. Come prepared otherwise it will embarrass you and could potentially lead to serious consequences for repeat offenders.

Overview/The Nature of resistance in Vietnam
Stanley Karnow – pp.109-138 (photocopy will be given to you before the lessons start)
Q1 How did the Vietnamese resist the Chinese before the arrival of the French?
Q2 What internal problems did Vietnam face in resisting the French?
Q3 What impact did the French have in Indochina?

The French and Indochina/How and why did Truman aid the French in Indochina?
Bragg pp.72-86
Sanders pp.9-17
Q1 Why did the French get involved in Vietnam after 1945?
Q2 What are the Vietminh? What role did they play in years 1900-1946?
Q3 How did Truman help the French?
Q4 Why did Truman help the French in Vietnam?
Q5 What diplomatic solutions were used to stop the conflict?

Geneva Conference and Eisenhower
Bragg pp.84-89
Sanders, pp.24-31
Q1 Why did Eisenhower become involved in Vietnam in 1953? What concerns did he have?
Q2 What was the purpose of the Geneva Conference?
Q3 What purpose did SEATO serve?

Diem’s regime (I)
Bragg pp.94-99, 102-110
Sanders pp.31-36, 48-57
Q1 How did Diem come to power?
Q2 How did Diem attempt to gain control over the population?
Q3 Did Ho or Diem have the ability, power and support to unite Vietnam?

Kennedy’s Crusade? 1961-1963
Sanders pp.41-59
Bragg pp.100-115
Q1 Why did Kennedy place so much importance on Vietnam?
Q2 What role did his advisors play?
Q2 What actions did Kennedy’s administration take in relation to Vietnam?
Q3 Can Kennedy be blamed for US escalation in Vietnam?

Diem’s regime (II)
Bragg pp.94-99, 102-110
Sanders pp.31-36, 48-57
Q1 What crises did Diem face in the 1960s?
Q2 What were the reasons for Diem’s removal?

US Foreign Policy, Johnson and the war 1963-1965
Bragg pp.116-133
Sanders pp.63-77
Q1 Did Johnson’s situation lead to an inevitable conflict?
Q2 How and why did the Gulf of Tonkin escalate the crisis?
Q3 Was Johnson responsible for the war?

Johnson and the escalation of the war 1965-68
Bragg pp.134-154
Q1 What problems were there with the military tactics?
Q2 How did the North conduct the war?
Q3 What internal problems did South Vietnam face during this period?
Q4 What was the Tet Offensive? How did it affect the USA?
Q5 What internal problems did Johnson face after the Tet Offensive?
Q6 How did the US try to improve their situation in relation to Vietnam?

Nixon (I and II)
Bragg pp.155-177
Sanders pp.120-143
Q1 What was the policy of Vietnamisation?
Q2 How did Nixon try to reach a diplomatic solution?
Q3 What tactics did Nixon use to try and end the war on his terms?
Q4 Was Nixon’s policy a success or a failure? Can it be justified?

Why could the USA not win? (I and II)
Sanders pp.80-98
Sanders pp.99-116
Q1 Do the lives and experiences of the ordinary Vietnamese help explain why the communists triumphed?
Q2 Why did the US military perform so badly?
Q3 Can the problems ‘back home’ help explain US defeat?

Historiography of the Vietnam War
Robert A Divine ‘Historiography: Vietnam Reconsidered’ in Capps (Ed.) – pp.100-116
Q1 What are the main schools of thought about the Vietnam conflict?
Q2 Which school of thought do you believe to be the most correct and why?

Conclusions ontologies and their consequences for Vietnam
Q1 Which President is to blame for the Vietnam war?
Q2 What points were key in escalating the conflict?
Q3 Are there any similarities with recent events that may help our understanding?

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