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Putting It All Together

Through the following activities students will consider the meaning of self-reliance in greater depth as well as determine how important events in their community's history relate to national events and events in the life of Bill Keys.

Activity 1: Self-Reliance
Have students use the following questions to guide them in writing a creative essay on their views of self-reliance:
1. How would you define self-reliance? Do you think self-reliance is always a good thing? Why or why not?
2. How might a very self-reliant person be characterized by others? Why?
3. What do you think Emerson meant when he wrote that "civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet"? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
4. What skills does Emerson claim we have lost? Do you think these are important? Why or why not? What other skills might we have lost or be in danger of losing since Emerson wrote his essay?

Activity 2: Local Community History
Have students work in small groups to research the history of their town or region. Ask each group to create a time line showing the dates of first settlement, important local events, and activities of prominent local citizens of the past hundred years or so. Have them use a different color to add major events in the 20th century such as World Wars I and II, the stock market crash, presidential terms, first sound films, first televisions, etc. They should use a third color to add the major events of Bill Keys' life to the time line.

If possible, have students try to find and photograph buildings or monuments in their community that are associated in some way with any of the events listed on their time line. Examples may include a memorial honoring local war veterans, a historic house museum, or a commercial building that reflects the area's economic livelihood. Students can then illustrate their time lines with photographs of some of the places that help tell the story of their community.

After the time lines are completed, have the class compare activities or events that occurred during the same period. Hold a classroom discussion on what the time line reveals about how events in their community's history relate to those of Bill Keys' life and the rest of the country.

 

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