Lesson 4A: Conservation vs Preservation and the Context of events

Lesson 4A: Conservation vs Preservation and the Context of events Grade level:   7-12     Time:  3 classes

Cross Curricular/Cross Lessons: 1D: Consistent Issues; 2C: Stewardship, Consequences and New Ideas; 3B: Conservationists, Preservationists and Capitalists; 3C: Gov’t Power; 6E: Pol. Cartoons; 6G: What Might Have Been

PDE Academic Standards: 1.1.8/11; 1.2.8/11; 1.4.8/10; 1.6.8/11; 4.2.8/10; 4.3.7/10; 4.8.7/10/12; 4.9.11; 5.1.9/12; 5.2.9/12; 5.3.9/12; 6.2.9; 6.4.9; 6.5.9/12; 7.1.9/12; 7.4.9/12; 8.1.9/12; 8.2.9/12; 8.3.9/12



–Students will compare and contrast the terms “preservation” and “conservation” in an effort to understand differing points of view of the same problem

–Students will debate the value of each proposal to the same problem

–Students will analyze how the context of events often dictates human decisions, regardless of their beliefs



Seeking the Greatest Good

Library of Congress American Memory Project   http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amrvhtml/cnchron6.html


Anticipatory Set:  (2min)      “Moment of Zen”       Discuss the quote as it relates to both students and the topic.

“Human beings are clever but are seldom wise”



–View Chapter IV of Seeking the Greatest Good
List the two words “conservation” and “preservation” on the board and ask students to list the differences between the two and the pros/cons from each.  Show the students a map of the American West to illustrate the geographic relationship between Yellowstone and San Francisco.
**Allow students to preliminarily debate the conservation or preservation of the Hetch Hetchy Valley before revealing the evidence from the group from the city of San Francisco.  This will illustrate to students the value of historical context in an event.

–Host a mock hearing or debate on the Hetch Hetchy valley controversy.  Have them research a side of the controversy, utilizing Gifford Pinchot, John Muir, the city of San Francisco and other opponents and proponents of the dam project.  The instructor can either lecture on the San Francisco earthquake or assign another group of students to present to the class the context under which Hetch Hetchy valley was chosen for the water project.  Student presentations should include photographs, maps, quotations and other historical facts and primary source material, just as it would in a Congressional Hearing.

–Before the debate begins, stress that the debate over whether or not to dam the Hetch Hetchy Valley was the first debate regarding the environment that was held in the public eye.  Stress the breakthrough that was for the country.

–Once the hearing is completed, ask the students how they would vote.  Ask them also which group they thought presented their evidence the best.  Discuss with them if/how the information about the SF earthquake changed their stance.

Extension: A recent bill was defeated in the California legislature that would have demanded the O’Shaugnessey dam in Hetch Hetchy Valley to be destroyed and returned to its original state.


Closure/Summary:            (3min)

As a class, answer the following Key Questions either in class discussion, short answer, essay or other format:

–Which is the better approach – conservation, preservation, or private enterprise?  Is there even a “better”?

–Did your commitment to one approach change after hearing the context of the San Francisco earthquake?

–In the end, how can Taft’s rollback of many of the conservation legislation be seen as proof of Pinchot’s worry     that preservation would never be embraced by the public and thus conservation was the key to success.


Evaluation:  Students will be evaluated on the quality of their responses

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