HIST 930 – PRDV: US and the World
Lesson Plans for FACDIS Institute
September 2, 2004
#1. Recognizing Propaganda/Bias
RATIONALE: This lesson plan could be used to explore how the Arab and/or Muslim world has painted America and Americans, post 9/11, AND/OR how some Americans have portrayed Arabs and/or Muslims in a world where terrorism continues to be front page news.
Resources include the Internet and television, various examples of propaganda (posters, political cartoon, etc.), books ( Don't Believe Everything You Read) and newspapers. (This lesson plan incorporates material from Lisa W. Fant’s, Extinguishing the Flames of Hate.)
Day 1: (one week prior to major lesson or on a Friday, depending on how many journal entries are required. Require a minimum of three to five, from different sources)
Ask students to define the word propaganda (the systematic attempt to manipulate people’s opinions, attitudes, beliefs, and actions with words, images, usually through mass media.) Discuss the role and goal of advertising and how it is considered a (mild) form of propaganda. (The teacher might also discuss the role of statistics in advertising.) As a class, read the booklet, Don't Believe Everything You Read and analyze the examples.
Assign students to keep a journal for one week (or over the weekend) in which they record observations about television, newspaper, magazine, and Internet advertising. For each journal entry, ask students to name the product, identify the target audience, and describe the advertisement noting visual images as well as key words used.
Day 2: Define and discuss these propaganda techniques: testimonials, bandwagon, name-calling, glittering generalities, card stacking, transference, and plain folks. Students will then work in groups to match the advertisements from their journal entries with the appropriate propaganda technique. Groups share their findings with the class.
Ask students to differentiate between education (exposure to different attitudes and beliefs for the purpose of making informed decisions based on logical thinking) and indoctrination (to imbue with a partisan or sectarian point of view, opinion, or principle.) Hand out examples of political cartoons, commercials, editorials, newspapers, posters, (W.W.II, army recruiting). Have students work in their groups to discuss if the material is propaganda to indoctrinate or information to educate. Share findings with the class.
Day 3: Put the following quote on the board: “The great masses of the people will more
easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.” Ask students to evaluate and respond to the quote. Ask students if any of the material already analyzed would fit with this quote. Discuss the role of propaganda in Nazi Germany and let students know Hitler said this in Mein Kampf. Discuss how the Nazis used political propaganda and manipulated schools, the mass media, and the arts as a way to indoctrinate and convince the masses to accept the Nazi philosophy.
Introduce and define the terms: scapegoating, symbol manipulation, emotional appeals, moral justification/superiority, and convoluted reasoning.
For homework, assign students to find examples of propaganda on the Internet and determine the propaganda technique it uses.
Day 4: Students will share examples of propaganda with the class. They should discuss the technique used, the significance of the piece, and what they think the writers of the propaganda hoped to accomplish with it.
The teacher will explain to the class that part of an educated citizen’s duty in a democratic society is to be able to evaluate the validity of information presented. Have the students do a comparative survey of the same news event as presented by different sources - newspapers, television stations, etc. (For example, the same news story presented by CNN and FOX or a story reported by a Democratic oriented paper and a Republican oriented paper.) The students should be able to: differentiate between a news story (objective reports of facts) and an editorial (an opinion), identify the 5 W’s and H, and try to identify any possible bias in these reports. (Cues the teacher can use: What facts are emphasized? Are any facts omitted? What, if any, propaganda techniques were used?, Were any conclusions drawn?, If so, were the conclusions logical?, Is the story pure objective news or does it contain any biases?)
Day 5: Students will share their analysis of the news survey.
Sum up the propaganda unit, specifically discuss the difference between education and
indoctrination and propaganda and information.
(Additional activities to consider: A. Have students develop an example of propaganda related to a local or state issue. B. Have students write an objective news report using the facts of a well-known fairy tale. Then have the students write a propagandized report of the same fairy tale, using one or more of the propaganda techniques learned in this unit. C. If available, have students take a school textbook from another country [Canada, England or, if translations are available, perhaps an Arabic country, Japan, or Germany] and compare and contrast the viewpoint of a particular event [the Holocaust, W.W.II, Vietnam, both Iraqi wars, 9/11] as it is presented in both texts.)
RATIONALE: This lesson will help students realize that people do not always see things the same way. In a world of increasing globalization and terrorism, it will help students understand that a person, culture, or country may address an issue from a very different perspective than most Americans do.
Teachers would need to obtain material that our curriculum specialist, Tom Collins, showed us at the Institute such as the maps of countries and the different examples of how figures and shapes can appear to look one way but are actually another. Specifically, the maps of different parts of the world shot from the perspective of different countries (what Japan looks like looking from Beijing) and the series of examples that show things aren’t always want they seem (the geometric lines, the old woman, etc.) Many of these maps and examples can be found on the Internet.
As Tom did with us, begin the lesson by having the students make guesses about what the “correct” answer is to the shapes and figures. Spend as much time as possible with these materials so students can begin to question themselves. Finish with the picture of the old/young woman.
Next, put the students into groups and distribute the maps (without any identification) and have the students try to determine what countries they are and what country would be viewing that country from that perspective. Groups could do this as a competition or each group could report on one or more individual countries.
Groups should then brainstorm and try to determine how the perspective of each country affects its relationship with the other country.
Finish the lesson by engaging the class in a discussion on how perception depends on many variables, that things are not always as they seem, and issues of who is “right” and “wrong” are not always easily determined. It should then be used as an entree for discussing the way Americans are viewed in the world and the way we view others.
#3. Interdependence of countries
RATIONALE: This lesson will help students understand how economically interdependent countries are in this world due to limited resources and how cooperation and compromise are becoming more and more important as globalization increases.
Construction paper, paper, paper clips, glue, scissors, rulers, pencils, one stapler, staples, one strand of yarn, manila envelopes.
Divide the class into groups or “countries.” The students are to construct something with the materials. I have always had them make a tourism booklet about their “country.” (They do not have to write inside, but that could be done as an auxiliary project after studying certain countries.) The problem the students will encounter, however, is that no group or “country” will have all of the material they need to make it. It will be up to the “countries” to cooperate, trade, or do what they can (“go to war,”) to construct their booklet. You can put standards on the booklet if you want. (For example, it has to be so big or so many pages. I don’t, I let the students make the booklet however they want. It becomes interesting to see what they come up with.)
Take the “manufacturing” material and put certain items in each manila envelope. Again, no “country” should have every item; however, some “countries” will be wealthier than others. For example, one group might have only construction paper and a pencil, another group might have only scissors and staples, and a third might have everything but construction paper. (Manila envelopes, for the creative students, can be part of the “countries” resources!) I have even given all the construction paper to one “country.” Each time this lesson is done, I divide the material differently, but the material in the envelopes should parallel reality; some countries are resource-rich and others resource-poor. (In one envelope, if you want, you can put in a notice that this “country” cannot trade or open discussions with any other country, they are isolationists!)
There has to be a time limit and rules. For example, only one person from each “country” can be out of his or her seat at one time. No yelling or speaking to other “countries” from your “country.” There has to be only the one person who negotiates. No “country” has to trade. More than two “countries” can align with each other. Any “country” can strike any bargain they want or “charge” anything they want for materials they trade (two pieces of paper for all the paper clips) that is in the best interest of that “country.” Basically, these “countries” are to act as real countries that MUST manufacture this product and they MUST get the material they need.
End the session, after time is up, by having each group display the booklet and explain how it was manufactured - what they had originally, how they obtained what they needed, and what they gave up, if anything. Have the students discuss the positives and negatives of the exercise as the teacher explains how the “real” world does this everyday and highlights the fact that we are an interdependent world. Much of the closure will depend on how the students compromised, traded, invaded, approached other “countries” to make the booklet.
#4. The Rise of Globalization
RATIONALE: Globalization is becoming more and more of an issue for all countries in the world. Many people in all countries object to foreign products in his or her country. In America for example, the “Buy American” mindset is still a dominant belief. This lesson illustrates that in the 21 st century, one may want to believe that is still possible, but it is really an unrealistic expectation. This lesson also illustrates that globalization is a two-way street and the world is becoming more and more interconnected economically.
A list of products and companies, some of which are owned by Americans and most owned by foreign companies. (Try to make the list one that the students will assume almost all of the companies are American, such as 7-11 which is owned by Japanese, Nestle which is owned by Swiss, and Fox TV which is owned by Australians. Put the list of companies in column A and countries to select from in column B and have the students match the companies or the countries.)
Distribute the list of companies and allow the students to spend several minutes identifying what country they think owns the product.
Go over the correct answers and have the students write a reflection paper on how this interdependence and globalization affects them, the United States, and the world. What are the positives and negatives of globalization? (Consider products that include both American and foreign parts, like automobiles.) Why, if we receive billions of goods from other countries, do many countries consider the United States as an economic imperialist trying to “Americanize” or “Westernize” them? (Bring in the French laws that make it illegal for the French to use certain American words, like disco and french fries, in certain situations or the fact that many in the Muslim world are using globalization as an excuse for “Jihad.”) Students could also research what American products are sold in other countries and when they started selling them in that country, i.e., KFC in China.
The teacher could also discuss the European Union and its ramifications and compare and contrast the E.U. with America. This exercise can also start a discussion about “outsourcing” of jobs and/or the fact that millions of American jobs depend on foreign companies selling in the U.S.
#5. Terrorism and Homeland Security
RATIONALE: Following the attacks on 9/11, terrorism became focal point of the United States and its government. On September 20, 2001, the Office of Homeland Security was developed. This lesson, primarily an Internet research lesson, would explore what this cabinet level department is and what it does.
Internet, videos of the 9/11 attacks, worksheet with questions to be researched and answered
Discuss with the students the fact that 9/11 was only the second time in US history that the United
States has been the victim of foreign attacks on US soil. Show the videos and let the students discuss the day and reflect on their feelings. Ask the students if they think the US was prepared for the attacks. Ask them how they would protect the United States.
Students will then use the Internet to research the new department. Distribute a worksheet for the students with the following directions:
- Identify the name of the new office that was created.
- Name the person appointed as the director of this office.
- Identify this person’s previous job and experience.
- Explain the primary mission of the new office.
- Identify some of the aspects of the American infrastructure this office will protect.
- Explain how this office will improve national security.
- Explain what other agencies the department works with.
- Identify how the agency coordinates with state and local government entities.
Students can then share the information orally, create a poster, newspaper article, or flowchart that describes the mission, duties, and structure of the new s department. Students should go back and see if their original answer about how they would protect the US is different or the same from how this office will protect the US. Do the students think this new office will be successful? Why or why not? What about the role of the FBI and the CIA? How has American changed (security-wise) since 9/11? (Point out new security measures everywhere – metal detectors, etc.)
The teacher can extend the lesson to include research/discussion of the Patriotism Act and why it was passed, how it fits in with the responsibilities of the new department, if the Act violates civil liberties, etc.