APPROACH AND RATIONALE
T he Revolutionary Experience: Focus on Philadelphia, is the result of a collaborative effort be- tween the National Center for History in the Schools (NCHS) at the University of California, Los Angeles and Lights of Liberty in Philadelphia. The lessons in the unit are inspired by the Lights of Liberty Show, an immersing nighttime “edutainment” experience that takes place throughout the Inde- pendence National Historic Park.The show, along with daytime tours to colonial Philadelphia histori- cal sites, as outlined in the “WalkingTour Activities” described after each lesson, can be used in conjunc- tion with a visit to that exhibit or used as a stand-alone lesson set for the classroom.
The Lights of Liberty Show is the new sound and light show that opened July 9, 1999 in Indepen- dence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, home to Independence Hall, The Liberty Bell, and many other sites that tell the spectacular story of America’s journey to freedom. It is the world’s first sound and light show of its kind that guides visitors through events in the American Revolution, as it happened, where it happened, through five dramatic acts which use five-story pro- jections and 3-D sound.
The National Center for History in the Schools has published over sixty teaching units that are the fruits of collaborations between history professors and experienced teachers of both United States and World History. The units represent specific issues and dramatic episodes in history from which you and your students can pause to delve into the deeper meanings of these selected landmark events and explore their wider context in the great historical narrative. By studying crucial turning points in history, the student becomes aware that choices had to be made by real human beings, that those decisions were the result of specific factors, and that they set in motion a series of historical consequences. We have selected issues and dramatic moments that best bring alive that decision-making process. We hope that through this approach, your students will realize that history in an ongoing, open-ended process, and that the decisions they make today create the conditions of tomorrow’s history.
This unit follows the format of other teaching units published by NCHS. These units are based on primary sources, taken from government documents, artifacts, journals, diaries, newspapers, maga- zines, literature, contemporary photographs, paintings, and other art from the period under study. What we hope to achieve using primary source documents in the lessons is to remove the distance that students feel from historical events and to connect them more intimately with the past. In this way we hope to recreate for your students a sense of “being there,” a sense of seeing history through the eyes of the very people who were making decisions. This will help your students develop historical empathy, to realize that history is not an impersonal process divorced from real people like themselves. At the same time, by analyzing primary sources, students will actually practice the historian’s craft, discover- ing for themselves how to weigh evidence, establish a valid interpretation, and construct a coherent narrative in which all the relevant factors play a part.