Cunning Plan 106: Political literacy

Teaching History feature

By Richard Harris, published 1st March 2002

The onset of citizenship brings with it the need to cover political literacy. The topic can be seen as dry and complex by Year 9 pupils. But ‘democracy is not boring’ (Lang in Teaching History 96). We need to educate our pupils to understand the complexity and features of a wide range of political systems. We often concentrate on dictatorship in the C20th but miss an opportunity to create a deep understanding of politics. But how can we get pupils to gain insight into a topic where the language and concepts are abstract and confusing? The approach below, by focusing heavily on the 1920s and 1930s, aims to get students to understand the fundamental differences between democracy and dictatorship by examining not only the differences, but also the similarities. By looking at similarities, the differences are brought more strongly into focus. Suggested time allowance includes class and homework time.

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