GERMANY: Building the Future...
Germany has entered the new millennium on the heel of some remarkable
milestone events and commemorations. The year 1999, alone, marked the
50th anniversary since the Federal Republic of Germany was born —
and the 10th, since the fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for east
and west Germans to reunite. The same year also witnessed the nation's
switch from the Deutsche Mark to the euro, and the return of its federal
government from Bonn to Berlin. Teachers looking back over the 20th century
will find this unit an appropriate closing chapter. Teachers looking forward
will find it invaluable for helping students to weigh Germany's ever-expanding
role within its region and the world.
In the following paragraphs, you'll find material to assist you in exploring
and developing this topic with students — plus a whole lot of additional
sources you may want to explore, and a special section on sharpening students'
Social Studies Reading Skills as they tackle the
unit pages designed for their use.
This unit should serve the goals of teachers in courses on modern history,
world regions, and contemporary issues (9-12). Among learning goals supported
by the unit are several objectives cited from Expectations of Excellence....
(EOE), by the National Council for the Social Studies, and from the National
Standards for History (NSH). Thus, students using this unit should
be better able to:
- "explain how the Western European countries … achieved
rapid economic recovery after World War II." — "Standard
1: The 20th Century Since 1945" (NSH)
- "… analyze ways in which trade has contributed to economic
and cultural change in particular societies...." — "Standard
1: World History Across the Eras" (NSH)
- "describe and assess ways that historical events have been
influenced by, and have influenced, ... factors in local, regional,
national, and global settings." — "People, Places,
& Environments" (EOE)
- "explain conditions and motivations that contribute to conflict,
cooperation, and interdependence among groups, societies, and nations."
— "Global Connections" (EOE)
In this unit, the meaning of many challenging terms should be clear to
students within the context provided. Thus: central bank, Deutsche
Mark, euro, social needs (welfare), sovereign currency,
and Wende. Others, you may want to preview: Bundestag
(house of parliament), free-enterprise competition, gross domestic
product, inflation, non-proliferation, and parliamentary democracy.
Among German terms, some are so close to the English meaning, they were
left undefined: Demos, Supermärkte, and Universität.
LE’s unit on Germany was developed around a "widening-circles"
approach to the study of modern-day societies. Among the unit's three
Student Pages (see list under "GERMANY:
Building the Future..."), Germany is explored first as a nation,
next as a member of a geographic and economic region,
and finally as an active participant in global affairs.
Running through all three pages are the underlying questions: What
do Germany’s achievements tell us about its role and responsibilities
in today’s world? How is Germany building its future? You may
want to use these questions — as well as the questions at the end
of each Student Page — for evaluation purposes.
BACKGROUND ON STUDENT PAGES
As you introduce this unit to students, ask them to speculate on how nations
"build the future," and urge them to watch for examples of future-building
in each of the three Student Pages. Here's some background on the content
of each of those pages:
1. Student Text Page No. 1: "As a
Nation." Germany has three major geographic regions: a protective
mountainous area in the south, a central uplands region, and northern
lowlands scissored by the great river valleys through which early settlers
entered the country. Germans in these regions have been struggling for
unity — in one form or another — for centuries. Now they've
achieved it, in a strong federal republic with 16 states (three of which
— Berlin, Bremen, and Hamburg — are cities). Yet the German
government's return from Bonn to Berlin (see Germany
Map Page) in 1999 raises a new question: How will this shift to the
east affect the issues that have arisen between east and west Germans
since their reunion?
2. Student Text Page No. 2: "Within
Its Region." When discussing Germany's switch to the euro, you
may want to tell students (or have them research) the names of the 11
other EU nations that have adopted the new currency: Austria, Belgium,
Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal,
and Spain. (As of 2002, EU members not making the switch included
Denmark, Sweden, and the UK.)
Impress on students that living in one of these 12 nations ("Euroland")
involves more than getting a new currency. The European Central Bank (ECB)
located in Frankfurt, Germany, now makes decisions about interest rates
and other matters previously handled by each nation's central bank. Fully
80 percent of the EU's 377 million people are affected by those decisions.
Indeed, the introduction of the euro could trigger several trends. With
the "transparency" of wage levels that the euro makes possible,
workers in one euro country can now compare their pay levels and benefits
with those offered in others. (Will job competition across political borders
increase?) Students should also know that the ECB is not the only EU institution
in which Germany participates. They might research Germany's presence
in the EU's Parliament, Commission, and Council of Ministers (try, for
example, Europa, the EU's Web Site).
3. Student Text Page No. 3: "In
Today's World." The September 13, 1998, issue of The New York
Times has a colorful account of the port of Hamburg. See Michael
Gorra’s, "A Thriving, Lively Port" (Page TR8). It’s
hard to over-emphasize the importance of trade when teaching about Germany.
More than one fourth of the nation’s GDP goes into exports (see
Germany Data Page). Germany maintains a
favorable balance of trade, too. By 2001, its annual exports were exceeding
its imports by many billions of dollars.
SOCIAL STUDIES READING SKILLS
Realizing that the nation's recent Elementary and Secondary Education
Act (ESEA) will exert a mounting pressure on social studies teachers to
emphasize reading skills with secondary school students, LE offers the
following tip for use with this unit (see also LE's Site Page on Reading
Skills in the Social Studies):
* Guided reading. In addition to helping students
look for key ides and data, a guided-reading assignment can also exercise
their thinking at the various levels of competency noted in Bloom's
Taxonomy — knowledge (Questions 1, 2, 5), comprehension
(3, 4, 5, 9), application (4), analysis
(6, 7), synthesis (8, 10), evaluation
(10). Here's an approach to doing just that, in conjunction with your
students' use of this unit's Student Text
Page No. 3: "In Today's World" (answers in italics):
1. What does the writer
say is "one of Germany's oldest lifelines to the rest of the
world?" (Maritime trade)
2. How many centuries
old is Hamburg, and what role does it play in Germany's economy today?
(Almost 12 centuries. It's Germany's No. 1 port.)
3. Explain the statement:
"German exports often include imported goods." (Products
manufactured in Germany — and later exported — may include
parts that were made in other countries, then shipped to Germany.
Arriving in Germany, such parts would be labeled "imported goods.")
4. According to this
article, how do German people see, or understand, globalization? From
what you know of other countries, is it likely that people in all
parts of the world today would view it the same way? (They view
it as a series of transactions linking workers, firms, and investors
who may be oceans apart. Answers to the second part of this question
5. What role does Germany
play in world trade? (Germany is the No. 2 trader in the world
and has trade relations with nations on every continent.)
6. This article provides several examples
of U.S.-German ties since the late 1940s: List three, in order of
their importance. (The order of importance would be open to discussion:
Marshall Plan, Berlin air-lift, U.S. support for West Germany's democracy,
current cooperation against global terrorism.)
7. Since the late 1940s,
what does the writer suggest was a major contrast between U.S.-German
relations, on the one hand, and German-Russian relations, on the other?
(The former were continuously good, while the latter "roller-coastered"
between negative and positive relations.)
8. What is the main
idea of the paragraph titled "Global role"? How does the
writer support that idea? (Answers will vary in form. Germany
works actively at building positive/peaceful ties with other nations
through its membership in — and support of — international
organizations. According to the article, any of its activities in
NATO and the UN would be examples of this.)
9. What shift in German
foreign policy became clear in the aftermath of "9/11"?
How long had the former policy been in effect? (After 9/11 Germany
became more willing to send troops abroad to aid in such activities
as maintaining security in Afghanistan. Germany's reluctance to send
troops abroad can be traced back to the end of World War II.)
10. Reflecting on this
article, what would you conclude are Germany's priorities for dealing
with other nations in today's world? (Answers will vary, but might
include references to Germany's prominence as a world trader, its
proven desire to strengthen peace and democracy, and its preference
for working through international organizations.)
Germany is a regular headliner! Just think of recent reports on Germany's
effort to promote worldwide enactment of the Kyoto Protocol for environmental
protection.... its influence on the shape and pace of EU expansion....
its cooperation with peacebuilding efforts by the UN (many of whose members
advocate a permanent seat for Germany on the Security Council). To follow
these and similar topics, see official press releases at the Germany-Info
Site, and check your local papers.
Andrews, Edmund. "Germany Expands Workers' Councils." The
New York Times. February 15, 2001. Page 1.
Finn, Peter. "Germany Offers 3,900 Troops To Assist U.S. in Afghanistan."
The Washington Post. November 7, 2001. Page A17.
Frangos, Alex. "Health and Medicine.... A Comparison of Countries'
Health-care Systems." The Wall Street Journal. February
21, 2001. Page R4.
Reid, T.R., and Finn, Peter. "Europe Welcomes New Year, New Money."
The Washington Post. January 1, 2002. Page A08.
Germany Student Text Page No.
1 | Germany Student Text Page No. 2
| Germany Student Text Page No. 3 | Germany
Map Page | Germany Data Page