Teaching Students About Butch Cassidy
Educating students on historical figures often involves delving into the life and actions of prominent individuals. One such individual is Butch Cassidy, an infamous outlaw from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. To engage students and foster a deeper understanding of Cassidy’s life, teachers need to take a comprehensive approach while delivering the material. The following are some essential aspects to address when teaching about Butch Cassidy.
1. Early Life
Begin your lesson by discussing Butch Cassidy’s background, including his real name (Robert Leroy Parker), birth year (1866), and upbringing in Beaver, Utah. Educate students about his family dynamics, religious beliefs, and how these factors played a role in shaping his life.
2. Criminal Endeavors
Explore the trajectory of Cassidy’s criminal career, starting with his first crime as a teenager in which he stole a pair of jeans. Gradually transition to more severe criminal acts like rustling cattle, robbing banks, and holding up trains. This allows students to gain insight into his evolution as an outlaw over time.
3. The Wild Bunch
Delve into the formation of the Wild Bunch and its main members: Elzy Lay, Ben Kilpatrick, Harry Longabaugh (the Sundance Kid), Will Carver, Tall Texan, and Laura Bullion. Discuss their exploits as a cohesive unit and how each member contributed to their notoriety.
4. Pursuits and Escapes
Cassidy was known for evading capture throughout his career as an outlaw. Present specific scenarios highlighting these pursuits and escapes with lawmen or the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Showcase Cassidy’s resourcefulness in changing identities or leveraging acquaintances to mislead law enforcement.
5. South American Sojourn
Address Cassidy’s final years in South America with Etta Place and the Sundance Kid after fleeing the United States. Discuss their life in Patagonia and the subsequent robberies they conducted. This inclusion adds an air of mystique, adventure, and a global perspective to the story.
6. Disappearance and Death
The circumstances surrounding Butch Cassidy’s death remain widely debated even today. Discuss the various theories about whether he died in a gunfight in Bolivia, returned secretly to the United States, or lived out his days under an alias. Foster a classroom discussion to explore these possibilities and develop students’ critical thinking skills.
7. Media Representation
Cassidy’s life has been the subject of countless books, movies, and television shows, including the famous “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” film starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Encourage students to compare fictional portrayals with factual information from their studies.
By addressing these topics in-depth, teachers can create an engaging curriculum that delves into Butch Cassidy’s complex life in a comprehensive manner. This approach not only provides students accurate historical representation but also encourages learning by exploring different angles of Cassidy’s story.