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Monday, 12 October 2009 01:30

Lesson 1: Conflicting View-Points on the Morality of Imperialism

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(excerpted from the unit by Jennifer Berringer;


  1. Students will read and analyze primary documents that compare two different points of view on the morality of imperialism.
  2. Students will deepen their understanding of the concept of imperialism.

Procedure: (This lesson takes 1 – 2 class periods)

Step 1:

  1. The day before, divide students into two groups and give each group one of the readings, John Stuart Mill: On Colonies and Colonization, and To the Person Sitting in Darkness (excerpted) By Mark Twain (Student Handout 6.1.1 and 6.1.2) Have students write a one paragraph summary of their readings to be used in class the following day.

Step 2:

  1. As an introduction to this lesson put up an overhead of the selection from Rudyard Kipling’s poem, The White Man’s Burden, (Teacher Resource 6.1.1) while playing an excerpt from Verdi’s Aida, (it was first performed at the Khedivial Opera House in Cairo on December 24, 1871. Some say the opera was commissioned for the opening of the Suez Canal.) Have students read the selection and respond to the questions. 
  2. When music selection is finished discuss what students have written in response to the poem.

Step 3:

  1. Then have students take out their readings and summaries from the previous night’s homework and put them in groups of four insuring that both readings are represented equally.  Pass out Conflicting View-Points on the Morality of Imperialism (Student Handout 6.1.3) and have students fill in the chart. One chart per group.
  2. Once they have filled in the chart have them debate the morality of imperialism from the perspective of the author of their assigned reading. The instructor should be making sure that the students are representing their author’s point of view (even though they may not agree).
  3. After students have had a chance to debate bring the whole class together to debrief.


Students understanding of the concept of imperialism and conflicting viewpoints can be determined from the collection of their one paragraph summaries of their readings, from the charts on the readings, and from the small group debates and class discussion.

Last modified on Tuesday, 13 October 2009 06:21

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