Artifacts and Ethical Dilemmas

Artifacts and Ethical Dilemmas
Posted on 02/10/2017

Braden Falline and Ryan Odor from the Clay County Heritage Center brought a trunkful of artifacts from World War l, World War ll and the Civil War to the World Area classroom at SHS.  While passing the artifacts around, World Area teacher, Hope Bumgarner, challenged her students to be thinking about ethical dilemmas with the artifacts, as well as to ponder purpose and time period for the different items.  ”I like representatives from Clay County Heritage Center to come in and talk because they have the actual items that the students can see and touch, and that makes it more real.  We are in the middle of talking and discussing the events of WWll, and the ethical dilemmas people faced because of events that occurred or decisions made by leaders,” said Bumgarner.

Falline explained some of the items that were on display, asking students to guess the war from when they were used.  One unique, and memorable bit of information was that of the WWll helmets which were made in two pieces.   Soldiers could take off the outer shell and use it like a pot to place over the fire for cooking soup and other food.   It was much sturdier and more protective than those used during WWl, and they were modeled after helmets designed by the Germans.  Other items passed around included: boots, gas masks, helmets and insignia and a cannon ball from the Civil War.

Propaganda posters were also on display, including the infamous, Rosie the Riveter poster, used to encourage more women to enter the workforce to help fill jobs vacated by men serving in the war.  Students learned that while women accepted the call, it created an ethical dilemma at the end of the war because women didn’t want to leave the workforce.  They proved that they could do just about anything a man could do, but the manufacturers promised the jobs to the men when they returned from war, so they had to find new ways to try and incorporate everyone.

Students were largely impacted after learning about rationing during WW l and WWll.  For many, their ethical dilemma centered around rationing, as was the case for Christina Mueggenberg.   She thought an ethical dilemma would be how to use the stamps.  “People would have had a hard time thinking about how to use the rations, so I think the dilemma would be about how to spend them.  Do I spend it on things for my family or for myself so that I can survive?” asked Mueggenberg.

After looking at all of the artifacts from the Clay County Heritage Center, students took time to discuss what they had learned within their groups.  The class ended with large group discussion about interesting facts learned and ethical dilemmas.  Among other things, Emma Wilkerson learned that Kleenex and M&Ms were made during the war.  M&Ms allowed the soldiers to have chocolate without melting.  Matt Fox thought it was interesting to learn about using the WWll designed helmets to cook soup and other things over fire, and Jace Wiemers left the class to ponder an additional ethical dilemma, and asked, “Do I choose to support the war and the soldiers or do I keep my money and support my family?  A question asked from the perspective of the wife of a soldier in America.”