In this lesson, students will watch selected clips from The Vietnam War, examine important provisions in the Geneva Accords and the Geneva Conference, and discuss their merits.
● Examine the 1954 Geneva Conference, which settled the war between Vietnam and France.
● Analyze the reasons why both the French and the Vietnamese were dissatisfied with the agreement.
● Examine the early goals of the United States in Vietnam.
- CIA Document: Probable Developments in South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia through July 1956 (Nov. 23, 1954)
- Map of partitioned Vietnam after the Geneva Conference Accords
About The Author
Greg Timmons has been a social studies teacher for over 30 years. He has written lessons for several PBS productions including The NewsHour, FRONTLINE, Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise and various Ken Burns productions including The War, Prohibition, The Dust Bowl, Baseball, The Tenth Inning, The Central Park Five, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, and Jackie Robinson. He is the winner of the 2007 American Educational Publishers Award.
1. Show both clips to students.
2. Have students read the CIA document and review the map, which shows the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Vietnam.
3. Address the following discussion points in small groups or as a class:
● Examine the map and summarize the negotiated settlement of the 1954 Geneva Conference.
● Explain why both the Vietnamese and the French were dissatisfied with the settlement.
● Review the two Viet Minh soldier’s (Nguyen Van Tong and Nguyen Thoi Bung) statements about the Geneva Accords, and explain how they describe the depth of resolve of the people of North Vietnam to reunite their country.
● Examine the newsreel footage showing travel to South Vietnam in boats. What images do you see portrayed? What do you think might have been the reaction of Western audiences upon seeing these images?
● What fears did many noncommunist Vietnamese have in fleeing from the North to the South?
● What did the United States hope to achieve in South Vietnam in 1954?
● If you had the opportunity, how would you have designed a peace agreement between the French and the Vietnamese?