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Period 4 - Loui Montgomery
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Marquez highschool period 3
Iraq war a root cause of convergence
This week we discussed why America invaded Iraq in 2003 and attributed the causes to individual attributes, domestic reasons, and systemic conditions, we divided the class up into groups and allowed them to go through the work sheet showing their understanding of the different causes. After they finished, we went through the answers and discussed the reasoning behind each answer. We then talked about to prevalent schools of taught on why America invaded that being the security theory & the hegemonic theory and we briefly discussed what the two schools of thought believed were the reason for Americas invasion. We finished of the class by discussing whether the students believed that one of the reasons were more important than the other. This week we had more students participating especially in the section when the groups shared their answers wich was encouraging. However, during the discussion questions there was really only one student that contributed with ideas, even though we used the think pair chair framework. I think our group was more engaged this time especially during the activity of attributing different causes and we walked around and helped the students whilst they were doing their work which I believe was helpful and encouraged some of them to participate when the students shared their answers later. I believe one of the reasons that they are not contributing to the discussions is that they quickly digress into talking about other stuff that is unrelated to the material and are therefore not ready to answer the questions Infront of the class. I think we as a group are struggling to find a problem to this issue. The students who did participate shared good insights especially on what aspect gave the best explanation to the answer of why the U.S invaded Iraq and stated that personal opinions and religion were to important aspects, and then elaborated on the answer of why George Bush might have been more likely than other leaders to engage militarily. This was an interesting point, but because no other student wanted to push back against his ideas, I highlighted the importance of other domestic factors especially the climate in America post the 9/11 attack, and how important that was in framing the Bush administration’s decision, to which he agreed. We ended the discussion by concluding that each explanation is valuable and they played into each other which created the circumstances for an American invasion. Next class we are once again doing a discussion based class and we will attempt to get more class engagement, dividing the class into groups certainly helped but I believe that we might also need to cold call on people to create a discussion. Furthermore I believe that the next activity lends itself better to discussion as the questions are more narrow which may allow the students to awnser them more easily rather than the broader and more philosophical questions that we have asked so far.
This week we discussed foreign aid and on what basis America gives foreign aid, furthermore we allowed the students to discuss in groups how to give out foreign aid to 4 different countries that required it for different reasons. We started off by going over the countries that received the most U.S foreign aid in 2005 and I explained some of the reasons that might have impacted the U.S decision. Going through the list two things became very apparent one of them was the political nature of foreign aid and the other one was the large set of receivers that were located in the middle east. We then discussed with the class why this might be and if the two were corelated and concluded that foreign aid is an efficient foreign policy tool and that the two were corelated as America’s interest in the region was guided by oil but was also exacerbated by the 9/11 attacks that occurred 4 years earlier. The class went well, and we allowed a considerable amount of time for the students to read through the summaries of why the different countries needed aid and find the arguments for and against giving them the aid. We then discussed as a class what countries should be given aid. In previous classes we have struggled with class participation, however, this class was different, and we got a number of new students to share their thoughts. I believe that it was due to the fact that we used more specific questions to guide the discussion rather than the larger philosophical questions that we had posed in earlier classes, this made for a more engaging class and allowed all students to participate and debate. Throughout this experience I have gained a significant amount of knowledge in foreign policy and it has been really helpful to revisit some of the basic ideas that I studied earlier in my college career, such as levels of analysis, focusing on individuals, domestic conditions and systemic attributes. Something that we have used in IR 330 to understand different schools of thought within IPE. This last exercise was also highly relevant for my IPE class studying the political aspects of U.S foreign aid and discussing how foreign aid or the lack of foreign aid might impact the countries asking for it. Teaching basic ideas within international relations and presenting them in a way that someone who is not familiar with the topic will understand has also given me a deeper understanding of those ideas such as democratic peace theory, the anarchic nature of international relations and the role of institutions set up under Bretton woods. The class has also allowed me to think on my feet and use the information that I have gained in different classes to answer some of the students’ questions. This has given me a broader understanding of the world and the nature of international relations as it is otherwise easy to study the classes in a more isolated manner. Putting different classes together has also given me a broader understanding of international political economy, through out these sessions we have focused on the middle east, and these classes paired with the information I have learned in other classes has made it abundantly clear that economics is perhaps the most vital part of any countries foreign policy.

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