Building a Lesson Plan: The Aims and Principles of Lesson PlansJune 21, 2018
The lesson plans that we aim to create should capture both the unique qualities of and the differences between the experiences of living under the communist regimes in some of the countries that fell within the sphere of influence, to a greater or a lesser extent, of the Soviet Union: the Czech Republic, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Slovakia. They should encourage our learners to further explore not only the main attributes of communism and state socialism as types of government, but also some of the factors that provided opportunities for these ideologies to gain and maintain power for decades. The consequences of living in the aforementioned regimes for the lives of ordinary people should be explored as well. The question is, how can we truly inspire and communicate meaningfully with our future learners, in order for them to understand, both mentally and emotionally, all the aspects of these types of government?
For a certain period of time, if we think in retrospective terms, it was accepted that teaching aims could insist on the acceptance of certain definitions. It was understood that it would be sufficient for students, after being taught, for instance, about communism and state socialism, to become capable of defining within a sentence what these ideologies were. However, if in the process of teaching we show an insistence for students to constantly accept definitions, without any in-depth analysis, it is probable that we will not achieve significant progress in terms of knowledge transfer. That does not create a productive learning experience, and it does not trigger the further development of high-order thinking skills. Crucial in the process of attaining knowledge is the creation of conditions and teaching resources that will allow to learners to reach understanding and awareness about the target subject. For that reason, before structuring the organizational principles of a lesson plan and providing further detailed instructions, we have to find out what cognitive and affective aims or learning targets we want to achieve. In this particular case, they might include some of the following:
- To understand the difference between the concepts of totalitarianism, dictatorship, and benevolent dictatorship
- To understand how different ideas aiming to liberate people could be abused for the achievement of certain personal and political goals
- To understand and explain how a revolutionary society that imagined freedom from repression transformed to a radical, oppressive society
- To understand the role of different ideological instruments, such as language, emotion, arts, education etc., in seizing and maintaining power in a society, and to recognize concrete examples
- To understand the way in which architectural or physical manifestations of the ideologies have shaped the lives of people in these four countries
- To raise awareness of what dignity is and how important is to respect human rights if we want to preserve institutions of democracy
- To acquire tolerance toward the Other and an appreciation for cultural diversity
- To build connections between prior knowledge and new information received
Through this, we understand that history is not just a record of past events. Through the application of our lesson plans, we strive to convey the message that every learner should understand that history has its own nature and concepts, but that they are very often intertwined with other branches of the humanities, such as arts, philosophy, etc. Our efforts to construct lesson plans goes beyond the traditional approach, exploring both the faith of a single man in one point of time and the storms which shaped and reshaped whole societies.