Why Use This Curriculum?

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Rationale and Introduction
Curriculum Goals
Connections to State and National Standards
Multiple Intelligences

Rationale and Introduction

Civil rights are the freedoms and rights that a person has as a member of a given state or country. In the United States, these rights include freedom of speech, of the press and of religion; the right to own property; and the right to receive fair and equal treatment from government, other persons and private groups. High school students likely have learned that law and custom protect a person's civil rights. The U.S. Constitution describes the basic rights of its citizens. Courts of law decide whether a person's civil rights have been violated; courts of law also determine the limits of civil rights, so that people do not use their freedoms to violate the rights of others.

Students probably are familiar with the African American struggle for equal rights. They most likely have studied amendments such as the 13th Amendment, adopted in 1865, which abolished slavery; the 14th Amendment, which in 1868 gave the former slaves citizenship; and the 15th Amendment, which became law in 1870 and prohibited states from denying people the right to vote based on their race.

Students may be familiar with the case Brown v. Board of Education in which the Supreme Court ruled that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. They may have learned the civil rights acts of 1957, 1964 and 1968.

Students may not be as familiar, however, with the Asian American struggle for equal rights. Throughout their history in the United States, their civil rights have been challenged or denied. The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, an unprecedented act directed at a specific ethnic group, was passed by Congress and barred further immigration from China. Although Asian immigrants have made significant contributions to U.S. society since the mid-19th century, they were denied naturalization rights until 1952. Unlike European immigrants, all Asian immigrants were considered "aliens ineligible to citizenship." This status meant that they could not vote. Asian Americans also experienced segregated schools in places such as San Francisco, California. In 1906, the San Francisco School Board ordered 93 Japanese Americans to attend a segregated "Oriental School" with Chinese and other Asian Americans. Laws such as the Alien Land Law of 1913 in California were directed at Asian immigrants to prohibit them from purchasing land. The Immigration Act of 1924 barred further immigration from Asia.

When the United States entered World War II after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Japanese immigrants and their descendants--who were U.S. citizens by birth--were placed in a very precarious situation. The immigrants were resident aliens in the United States, a country at war with their country of birth.

Amid the hysteria following the U.S. entry into World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. It authorized the War Department to prescribe military areas from which any or all persons could be excluded. This served as the basis for the "evacuation" and incarceration of more than 110,000 Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans; two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens. Most were forced to sell their homes and businesses, and suffered huge financial losses.

This curriculum offers students the opportunity to consider civil rights issues in the context of the Japanese American experience during the immigration years and during World War II, and the legacies of this history that affect all people in the United States today.

Although many state and national U.S. history standards cover the Japanese American experience during WWII, more often than not it is a topic that is treated without nuance. Due to space constraints, many U.S. history textbooks condense this historical episode into no more than a few pages. As a result, textbooks are forced to emphasize certain historical themes and to abandon others. The purpose of this curriculum is to supplement material in existing textbooks by providing primary sources from that time in history. One goal of the curriculum is to teach students that history is not always as "cut and dry" as it is presented in textbooks.

Curriculum Goals

In this curriculum, students will:
  • Learn and analyze the concept of civil rights
  • Develop a basic understanding of the events leading up to and including the mass removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II
  • Become familiar with the diversity of Japanese American experiences
  • Analyze the decision to incarcerate Japanese Americans
  • Learn to think critically and make informed opinions
  • Evaluate different opinions and generate alternative perspectives on an issue
  • Learn tools to enhance awareness and communication
  • Work effectively in small and large groups
  • Support and effectively express opinions


This curriculum is recommended for use in social studies, world history, global/international studies, U.S. history, and contemporary issues classes. Some activities may be adapted for language arts, civics, art, mathematics, or science classes. For more information, see Adapting Activities for Various Disciplines in the "How to Use This Curriculum" section.

Connections to State and National Standards

Many states require that the Japanese American mass removal and incarceration be taught at the secondary level. For example, the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools includes the following at the 11th grade level:

The relocation and internment of 110,000 Japanese Americans during the war on grounds of national security was a governmental decision that should be analyzed as a violation of their human rights.

(History--Social Science Framework for California Public Schools, Grades Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Sacramento: California Department of Education, 1997, page 97.)

The National Standards for United States History also recommends that students understand the effects of World War II in the U.S. Specifically, students should be able to:

Evaluate the internment of Japanese Americans during the war and assess the implication for civil liberties.

(National Center for History in the Schools. National Standards for U.S. History. Los Angeles: National Center for History in the Schools, UCLA, 1996, page 120.)

The Washington State Essential Academic Learning Requirements

When used in its entirety, this curriculum will satisfy several social studies standards. As an example, the curriculum is aligned with the following Washington State standards (also known as Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs); see below for more information. Please remember that this curriculum is not limited to Washington state teachers or standards.

Draft form of Essential Academic Learning Requirements

Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction website:

Benchmark 3 - Grade 10
1.0 The student understands and can explain the core values and principles of the U.S. democracy as set forth in foundational documents, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
1.1 understand and interpret the major ideas of foundational documents
1.1.2 explain specific rights guaranteed by the Constitution and how these rights are related to responsibilities
1.2 examine key ideals of U.S. democracy
1.2.1 examine the origins and continuing influence of key ideals of the U.S. democracy such as individual human dignity, liberty, justice, equality, and rule of law
1.2.2 analyze why democratic ideals demand that people work together to reduce the disparity between ideals and realities

2.0 The student analyzes the purposes and organization of governments and laws.
2.1 understand and explain the organization of the U.S. government
2.1.2 identify problems and solutions related to the distribution of power between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government
2.2 understand the function and effect of law
2.2.1 explain how the Constitution is maintained as the supreme law of the land and how it is changed or amended
2.3.3 analyze and explain how citizens can influence governments, for example, voting, lobbying, protest, or revolution

4.0 The student understands the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and the principles of democratic civic involvement.
4.1 understand individual rights and their accompanying responsibilities
4.1.1 explain how responsibility to the common good might conflict with the exercise of individual rights, for example, freedom of expression or private property rights
4.1.2 examine why democracy requires government to protect the rights of citizens and to promote the common good
4.2 identify and demonstrate rights of U.S. citizenship
4.2.1 engage in oral and written civic discourse to analyze pressing controversial issues and evaluate different solutions
4.3 explain how citizen participation influences public policy
4.3.1 analyze the influence of a diversity of public opinion on the development of public policy and decision-making

Benchmark 3 - Grade 10
1.0 The student examines and understands major ideas, eras, themes, developments, turning points, chronology, and cause-and-effect relationships in U.S., world, and Washington State history.
1.3 examine the influence of culture on U.S., world, and Washington State history
1.3.1. examine and discuss historical contributions to U.S. society of various individuals and groups from different cultural, racial, and linguistic backgrounds
2.0 The student applies the methods of social science investigation to investigate, compare and contrast interpretations of historical events
2.1 investigate and research
2.1.1 identify social issues and define problems to pose historical questions
2.1.2 investigate a topic using electronic technology, library resources, and human resources from the community
2.2 analyze historical information
2.2.1 organize and record information
2.2.2 distinguish fact from judgment and opinion; recognize stereotype; compare and contrast historical information
2.3 synthesize information and reflect on findings
2.3.1 evaluate information and develop a statement of the significance of the findings; defend own analysis
2.3.2 reason logically; compare and contrast differing perspectives; argue both for and against a position
3.0 The student understands the origin and impact of ideas and technological developments on history and social change
3.2 analyze how historical conditions shape ideas and how ideas change over time
3.2.1 compare the meaning of ideas in different places and cultures, for example, ideas about spirituality, progress, and governance

Benchmark 3 - Grade 10
2.0 The student understands complex physical and human characteristics of places and regions.
2.1.1 use observation, maps, and other tools to identify and compare the physical characteristics of places and regions such as wildlife, climate, natural hazards, and waterways
3.0 The student observes and analyzes the interaction between people, the environment, and culture.
3.1.1 analyze the different ways people use the environment, the consequences of use, and possible alternatives
3.2.1 explain how the physical environment impacts how and where people live and work
3.3.1 identify the many groups and subcultures that may exist within a large society and how they interact

Multiple Intelligences

The activities in this curriculum integrate Howard Gardner's work on multiple intelligences. Gardner, Professor of Education at Harvard University, argues that humans possess varying amounts of seven intelligences, which they combine and use in highly personal ways that are influenced by culture. In his book, Frames of Mind, Gardner presented a theory of multiple intelligences, which reinforces his cross-cultural perspective of human cognition. A brief description of Gardner's intelligences follows:[1]

Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence

Verbal-linguistic intelligence consists of the ability to think in words and to use language to express and appreciate complex meanings. Authors, poets, journalists, speakers, and newscasters exhibit high degrees of verbal-linguistic intelligence.

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

Logical-mathematical intelligence makes it possible to calculate, quantify, consider propositions and hypotheses, and carry out complex mathematical operations. Scientists, mathematicians, accountants, engineers, and computer programmers all demonstrate strong logical-mathematical intelligence.

Spatial Intelligence

Spatial intelligence instills the capacity to think in three-dimensional ways as do sailors, pilots, sculptors, painters, and architects. It enables one to perceive external and internal imagery; to recreate, transform, or modify images; to navigate oneself and objects through space; and to produce or decode graphic information.

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence

Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence enables one to manipulate objects and fine-tune physical abilities. It is evident in athletes, dancers, surgeons, and craftspeople.

Musical Intelligence

Musical intelligence is evident in individuals who possess a sensitivity to pitch, melody, rhythm, and tone. Those demonstrating this intelligence include composers, conductors, musicians, music critics, and instrument makers, as well as sensitive listeners.

Interpersonal Intelligence

Interpersonal intelligence is the capacity to understand and interact effectively with others.

Intrapersonal Intelligence

Intrapersonal intelligence refers to the ability to construct an accurate perception of oneself and to use such knowledge in planning and directing one's life.

1. Linda Campbell, et al., Teaching & Learning Through Multiple Intelligences (Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1996), p. xvi. Since the publication of this book, Gardner has added an eighth intelligence, namely, a "naturalist" intelligence.

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