November 3, 2020

Teaching Materials

1. History Repeating

Warm-up exercise: Watch and listen to this video clip by the Propellerheads and Miss Shirley Bassey. Can you fill in the blanks in the lyrics below? Without looking up the complete text on the web, of course...

The word is about, there's something evolving,
Whatever may come, the world keeps ..............
They say the next big ............. is here,
That the .....................  near,

But to me it seems quite ...... .
That's it's all just a little bit of history repeating.

The newspapers shout a new style is ............ ,
But it don't know if it's ............... or going,

There is ............. , there is fad
Some is good, some is ....
And the joke ............ sad,
That it's all just a little bit of History repeating.

And I've seen it ...........
And I'll see it ........... 
Yes I've seen it .............
Just little bits of history repeating

Some people don't .........., if they don't know who's singing,
why ask your head, it's your hips that are ............... 
life's for us to ............ 
woman, man, .............. and boy,
feel the ........... , feel the joy
aside set the little bits of history repeating

.. just little bits of history repeating
.. and I've seen it before
.. and I'll see it again
.. yes I've seen it before
.. just little bits of history repeating

2. How the US Presidential Election Works  

In 2016, the Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton got  nearly 3 million more votes than the Republican Party candidate Donald Trump. This is because of the "Electoral College" system of US presidential elections. Watch this explanatory video by BBC News and answer:

  1. What is the task of the "Electoral College"?

  2. When and why was the system of "Electoral College" established?

  3. How many Electors' votes does a candidate need to win the election? 

  4. What are the "battleground" or "swing" states?

  5. What is the main reason to keep the "Electoral College" system?    

3. Real Clear Politics (RCP): Electoral Map 

RealClearPolitics (RCP) is an American political news site and polling data aggregator formed in 2000 by former options trader John McIntyre and former advertising agency account executive Tom Bevan.

Study the interactive 2020 Electoral College Map. Then answer the following questions:

  1. How many  Electoral College Votes do the candidates have on their side now?

  2. Which are the "toss up" states? can you name them?

  3. Which is the state with the highest number of electors for Joe Biden?

  4. Which is the state with the highest number of electors for Donald Trump?

  5. Assignment: select one "toss up" state. Tell us more about it: what are the latest poll results? How important is it? You can use other online resources!

4. Historian who correctly predicted every election since 1984 makes his call

Professor Allan Lichtman has been teaching at American University in Washington, DC, since 1973. He has correctly predicted winners of US presidential elections since 1984. He uses the "13 Keys to the Presidency" system. In 2016, he was one of very few serious non-partial commentators who predicted Donald Trump's victory. This year, he predicts Joe Biden's victory.

Watch the Fox News video interview with professor Lichtman:  Why does he predict that Donald Trump is going to lose? What are some of the 13 "Keys" to the White House professor Lichtman uses?

What do you think about such predictions? Do they matter? If yes: why? If not: why not?

5. Stanford researchers combat election misinformation

Stanford University students are investigating the spread of mis-and disinformation online. It is a part of their work with the Election Integrity Partnership. The effort is part of a coalition that includes the Stanford Internet Observatory, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab), Graphika, and the University of Washington's Center for an Informed Public.

Watch the video and answer:

  1. What sort of mis- and disinformation are the researchers looking at?

  2. How many people work on the project? How many of them are Stanford  University students?

  3. Wheŕe are the researchers looking for election disinformation?

  4. What do they do when they find some mis- or disinformation?

  5. Alex Stamos gives an example of one highly publicized misinformation from California. What was it about?

  6. What is the main goal of the project-according to Elena Cryst?

6. Weird History: Life of Ex-Presidents

Weird History is a fun but fact-based educational YouTube channel about history. It has 2.36 million subscribers (as of November 3, 2020) and is growing.

This video is about the life of former United States Presidents. Have fun but learn something new, too :-)    

7. The Topic for This  Week's Essay:

The (Ir)Relevance of the US Presidential Elections 

This is a photo of Woodrow Wilson speaking at his first presidential inaugural in 1913. He went on to be reelected in 1916 and his influence led to the independence of countries  in Central Europe, including Czechoslovakia and Poland.


History is usually more complicated than simple interpretations suggest, but I think it is safe to say that Woodrow Wilson played an important role in the life of nations here in Europe. 

Is the result of the presidential elections in the United States important for Europe?  And the rest of the world? If yes, why? If not, why not? 

Explain in 300 to 500 words, why you think the US presidential election is relevant or irrelevant to our lives. Whether too much or not enough attention is devoted to the elections in the media you follow and if it helps you understand what is really going on in the United States.