Crisis In The Family: Connecticut And The Nation
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Teachers wishing to deal with the condition of American society in the period following the Civil War, as a prelude to the study of politics during Reconstruction and to the study of economic developments during the Gilded Age, may introduce this unit when they have finished the study of the war. By focusing on the family they can raise a whole spectrum of other considerations. The study of the crisis in the family can lead into the familiar themes of immigration, westward expansion, the decline of New England leadership, women’s rights, urbanization, and, by implication, industrialization. The family focus also enables teachers to introduce the less familiar themes of the professionalization of medicine, the rise of science, and the increase of secularization. By addressing themselves to how the crisis was perceived and articulated in Connecticut, students can gain a more intimate knowledge of the history of their own state and of the New England region and can acquire a reference point for viewing change in the whole society. Their understanding of general trends affecting the nation should be increased by their ability to see how these trends were all interrelated in the minds of contemporaries. By starting with the local setting and focusing on interconnections, students will begin to look for relationships in other areas, and their ability to raise interesting questions should be increased. In one sense, this whole issue is one of changing values. Through acquaintance with it students should gain a sense of how a culture’s values are affected by change, and in turn, how a value system enables people to interpret and direct the change that is occurring.