Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Ballot or the Bullet vs I Have A Dream - a lesson plan


The bullet or the ballot as Malcom X once put it. This is a lesson plan I've been playing with for the last couple of weeks and I thought I'd post it and see what you think. It is definitely aimed at advanced learners of English, or indeed you could use it in a social studies class. It is ambitious in its scope, but I believe if you ask a lot of your students then, most times they far exceed your expectations.

Lesson Plan

1 Ask students to write down or research what revolutions/rebellions have taken place in their country over the last 100 years, this can set for homework prior to the lesson or done via internet if ou have access at school. In Greece this is a tall order considering the country's turbulent history during most of the 20th century.

2 Students compare their information in groups and report back to you.

3 Now ask them if drastic social change ever comes about peacefully. Once again they discuss this in groups and emphasise the fact that you want concrete examples to support their ideas.

4 Explain to students that they are going to see Mississippi Burning (either in class or for) homework. If you can, show the trailer for the film to the whole class and ask them to write down;



what kind of film it is
where it is set
when it is set

what the basic plot is


5 Student watch the movie and for homework write down what would they have done if they had been born Black in such a community.

6 In the next lesson students discuss their answers with each other.



7 Now explain to the students who Martin Luther King and Malcom X were. Make sure they understand that both of them were black leaders who lived and campaigned in the same era as Mississippi Burning was set (the early 60'), yet both had very different ideas about how the Afro-American community should deal with racism.

8 Divide the class into two groups and give them links to either "The Ballot or the Bullet" speech by Malcolm X or the "I have a dream" speech by Martin Luther King (it might be a good idea to give them the transcripts as well - (see here for Malcom X and here for Martin Luther King.)

9 For homework, student listen to the speeches and write down what each leader thinks should be done  to improve the situation of their community and why.

10 Now explain to students that they are now either Martin Luther King or Malcolm X and they have to debate what is the best way to deal with the problems Black Americans face in the society shown in the film. Students should use the ideas in the speeches to put support their ideas.

11 Organise a class debate

12 Essay question.

"Who would you have followed if you had been a Black American in the 1960's?"

6 comments:

melusina said...

You know, this lesson would actually be good in American history classes too. We really never got that much regarding this period of history. It is a real shame, because while I think the whole scope of history is important, I think it is crucial for students to have an understanding of what has been going on in their country for the past 100 years.

When I was in high school, we just didn't get that.

At any rate, I think it is a provocative lesson, especially for folks in the advanced stages of English education.

teacher dude said...

The great thing about the internet is that eventually somebody will pick up on this. Hopefully, it will get used as a lesson. That's my dream.

patrick said...

i think that if you were to make them read the trades of the xmen you could have a good basis of comparison for the whole movement, xaiver and magneto king and x

teacher dude said...

Great idea, I'll look around for the X Men scripts and take a look at the speeches. Thanks.

deviousdiva said...

Good lesson. Why didn't we have teachers like you ?

It might also be interesting to point out that Malcolm changed his mind later in life and turned his back on the Nation of Islam and many of the ideals he held, especially about separatism and violence.

In an interveiw in 1965 he said:

"Brother, remember the time that white college girl came into the restaurant -- the one who wanted to help the Muslims and the whites get together -- and I told her there wasn't a ghost of a chance and she went away crying?"

He also later reflected:

"Well, I've lived to regret that incident. In many parts of the African continent I saw white students helping black people. Something like this kills a lot of argument. I did many things as a [black] Muslim that I'm sorry for now. I was a zombie then -- like all [black] Muslims -- I was hypnotized, pointed in a certain direction and told to march. Well, I guess a man's entitled to make a fool of himself if he's ready to pay the cost. It cost me twelve years.

"That was a bad scene, brother. The sickness and madness of those days -- I'm glad to be free of them."

Sophia said...

Hi Teacher Dude

I have done a comparative class similar to the one you outline here with my MA students-although, unfortunately, I didn' t think of using the movie you propose. Great idea, though, maybe next year.

The juxtaposition really gave them a perspective on social change and means to attain it.