Teaching Guides

Losing Control in the 1970s

Teaching Activity. By Jennifer Rosebrook.
Questions and teaching ideas for Chapter 20 of Voices of a People's History of the United States on the legacy of scandal since the end of the Vietnam War and the Watergate break-in.
Time Periods: 20th Century, 1961
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements

Teaching With Voices of a People's HistoryStudents continue to feel the effects of the 1970s in their everyday lives. The twin catastrophic events early in the decade — the tragic ending of the Vietnam War and the scandals of Watergate — shocked the nation and rocked the foundations of our fundamental belief in government. To many Americans — including the parents of many of our students — whatever had happened previously seemed distant and simple compared to the events of this period. Frustration and cynicism characterized the attitudes in many homes across the nation.

nixon-farewellIn addition, our students have had to confront modern scandals — Iran-Contra, savings and loans, Monica Lewinsky, Enron, Abu Ghraib — scandals that suggest that perhaps not much has changed. The voices in this chapter reflect the frustration and cynicism that resulted from the scandals of the 1970s, and in so doing, suggest that we may have opened a Pandora’s box that, for good or bad, may be impossible for us to close.


Reprinted from Teaching with Voices of a People’s History of the United States, published by Seven Stories Press.