This enquiry encourages students to engage with the stereotypical idea of the American West as lawless, brutal and frightening.
Students consider a historian’s interpretation, in which it is argued that the ‘Wild West’ should actually be called the ‘Mild West’.
Then, they look at a number of case studies in order to substantiate or challenge this historian’s claim.
They examine some of the infamous criminals of the west, including Jesse James’ gang and Wild Bill Hickok, assessing just how lawless their activities were.
A further layer is added to the enquiry with an extract from a historian’s article (in which the lawlessness of the west is questioned), and students end by considering the reasons for the development of stereotypes about the ‘Wild, Wild West’.
This is good interpretations work, developing students’ ability to engage with real historians’ arguments and to consider the important question of how exaggerated/false ideas about History develop over time. Nice!
- Lesson presentation: PowerPoint
- Lesson write-up:Word
- Resource 1: PDF
- Worksheet 1: PDF
- Worksheet 2: PDF