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Lesson Plans Archive
United States History
TOPIC: Anti-Imperialism and The White Man's Burden
AUTHOR: David Rodgers
SCHOOL: Zionsville Community High School
DISTRICT: Eagle-Union Community School Corporation
- Explain what was meant by the phrase "White Man's Burden".
- Evaluate differing opinions on the role of the U.S. in the world prior to WWI.
- Discuss the pros and cons of an imperialistic foreign policy at the turn of the 19th century.
- Draw parallels between the anti-imperialist debate of the 1890's and the debate over America's role as the "world's policeman" in the 1990's.
INDIANA STATE PROFICIENCIES:
- #1 & #2: Historical Understanding.
- #21: U.S. History.
RESOURCES and MATERIALS:
- During America's expansion to be a world power on a global scale beginning in the 1890's, Imperialists often talked of "the white man's burden" when defending their belief. Student's in today's society often have a difficult time understanding the good intentions of this attitude in the society of those times. This lesson will require students to analyze the notions behind the phrase by reading Rudyard Kipling's poem, "The White Man's Burden", and several anti-imperialist criticisms which followed over the years.
- Class discussions may be touchy, as racial issues are obviously at the heart of the argument, but, if done properly, discussions can be quite good.
Students will use the Internet to access the references cited above.
- Students are to read "The White Man's Burden" and a sampling of the critical responses which are also on-line, then write a one-page response of their own: analyzing the arguments against the Imperialists' position, and why those arguments were unable to prevail upon the general populace at the time.
- The next day in class, the teacher will lead a discussion of the students' readings, asking them to summarize the anti-imperialist articles they read and to compare their positions with those of other students.
- Primary evaluation will come from the paper, which should probably be collected at least one day after the in-class discussion.