In a unique history lesson, eighth graders decide the fate of World War II, taking on the role of President Truman.
Some of history’s greatest challenges were reenacted at the White House Decision Center in the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri, when Bueker Middle School eighth graders assumed the roles of President Truman and his advisors.
Over a period of three days, the students were broken into three groups and visited the center during school hours. The decision facing them was whether to drop the bomb on Japan, and where it should be dropped, in order to end the war.
The simulation presented that fighting was still ongoing with Japan, but the war in Europe was over.
“The decision-making simulation was them actually being able to participate in that checks and balances process,” said Julie Hieronymus, eighth-grade social studies teacher. “They got to not only learn about it and understand it and how it worked here, but then practice it.”
Students met in a room that was recreated as the West Wing of the White House. There were also separate cabinet rooms and a room for the press. Some students broke off into different groups, joining president and cabinet members, and other were members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The actual documents used were reviewed by the cabinet members, who had to prepare a speech for the senators.