School Curriculum

The Legacies of War Curriculum for Middle and High School Students

The Legacies of War (“Legacies”) curriculum is the only educational unit in the U.S. addressing the impact of U.S. bombings on Laos and teaching a new generation about this history. Already taught in Seattle and Boston schools, we are offering the curriculum nationwide. The unique set of five lesson plans includes trainings from Legacies of War consultants to teachers and community members. The curriculum was developed to encourage collaboration between the school and community. Hence, we offer a series of community programs in conjunction with the curriculum.

We hope the information is helpful in exploring the possibilities of implementing the Legacies of War curriculum and complementary programs in your school. Please feel free to contact us with questions.

General Overview of Curriculum

The Legacies of War Curriculum is an educational unit designed to introduce students to the history and aftermath of Vietnam Era bombings of Laos. The curriculum weaves together introductory elements of social studies, English, human rights and war and peace studies, alongside world history, geography and statistics. The curriculum provides a flexible framework, which the instructor may adapt to the needs and structure of the students and class. Ultimately, the curriculum aims to raise awareness of Lao culture and community—often forgotten in U.S. history—while demonstrating its relevancy to students’ current lives and world events.

The curriculum is designed to function as a five lesson block unit with each lesson plan filling roughly an hour-long time period. Each unit can function as a week-long unit within the broader context of a high school Social Studies/U.S. History curriculum. Ideally, the Legacies curriculum would serve as a challenging counterpoint to a standard American textbook interpretation of the Vietnam War and the political events surrounding it.

As mentioned above, the target age-group for the curriculum is junior and high-school but can be modified (intensified or downgraded) to function above or below these age groups. The framework can be adapted to accommodate a college-level course as well, though significant adjustments and workload increases would be in order here.

The work itself falls heavily on the writing component, but the intention is to avoid strict academic prose and enhance the artistic and creative writing/thinking skills of the students involved. Thus, nearly every lesson incorporates a “free-writing” component, which offers students the opportunity to put pen to paper and document their thoughts and attempt to tie the story of Laos into their own lives.

The materials involved are not extensive, and a comprehensive listing of the reference literature, media articles and reports are all provided in this unit. In addition, the curriculum is designed to be flexible so that other suggested lesson alternatives can be substituted in the absence of accompanying reference materials.

Legacies of War uses historic illustrations drawn nearly 40-years ago by Lao villagers who survived the secret U.S. bombings. These vital primary source materials speak to the human impact of war and offer a window into the role of art and creativity in conflict resolution and prevention. While some of the curriculum works to tease out these themes explicitly, there are many implicit lessons to be learned from the activities in which the students engage. The expectation is that by first starting at the level of the individual experience in the illustrations, then broadening the historic context, and finally returning to the story in the illustrations, students may be able to draw these connections on their own. At Legacies, we envision this curriculum as playing a vital role in learning about Laos and the Vietnam War, and thinking critically about the current landscape of peace and security.