This unit was created by Catherine Irving, a high school social studies teacher at Northside College Preparatory High School in Chicago, IL, as part of the Spring 2021 Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellowship program on Journalism and Justice. It is designed for facilitation across approximately six 100 minute class periods.
For more units created by Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellows in this cohort, click here.
Students will be able to…
- Connect the philosophies developed through European Imperialism and Enlightenment to contemporary systemic oppression across the world
- Analyze how ideals developed in the Enlightenment have evolved over time
- Evaluate primary historical and contemporary sources to support a claim
- Propose solutions to contemporary, discriminatory issues
- Analyze events from different perspectives
- Identify and research examples of counter narratives/disruptors in their own communities
- Plan and conduct interviews
- Present reporting on the past narrative and the current disruptor
How do counter narratives in our communities demonstrate that the historic ideals of liberty and equality born in the Enlightenment have become increasingly accessible to more communities today through the efforts of individuals or organizations?
This unit will examine the traditional themes of the European Enlightenment such as liberty and justice. Students will then explore how the same thinkers who left a legacy of proposed freedoms also created systemic discrimination for many communities. After engaging with primary sources and examining the history of imperialism, students will review news stories funded by the Pulitzer Center that connect this legacy to current global events. Ultimately students will create their own projects highlighting a narrative in their own community that counters traditional Enlightenment legacies. The idea is to identify and report on the disruptors to the past stereotypes.
Students will practice the following skills throughout this unit:
- Connections of cause and effect
- Analyzing change over time
- Using primary sources to create and support a position
- Proposing solutions to problems
- Analyzing events from different perspectives
The unit is written for freshmen students in World Studies in a 1:1 technology setting. The class meets for 100 minutes twice a week. The foundation lessons through the initial assigning of the culminating project takes 6 days or 3 weeks. Teachers will decide for themselves if after the 6th lesson they will continue to use class time for the project or if it will become an outside of class activity with occasional check ins
The original Enlightenment promises of liberty coupled with the historically accepted views of discrimination are meeting in our current communities and lives. Those who have always controlled the narrative are still influential, however, more and more groups are starting to change that narrative. The historic ideals of the Enlightenment are being used against itself to bring about more liberty and justice for all.
Investigating the Counternarratives Performance Task
Now it’s time to take the necessary steps to develop an investigation into the counter-narratives in our communities. This exploration can be your own or it can be someone else’s. It can be reported through any form of photos, writings or recordings.
Oh Europeans of the past
Let me answer the questions I have asked,
The freedom promised throughout the nation?
Its roots lay in relentless degradation
Sexism, racism, orientalism
Twisted deep, built into generations
Student poem from performance task.
Refer to the following rubric for assessment guidelines.
Read more of Ms. Irving’s reflections after implementing the unit here. This packet also includes a collection of student examples for each of the eight worksheets, seven student examples of the final project, and four student reflections.
“The purpose of this unit is to connect ingrained historical European views of groups of people to perceptions and discrimination today and then to identify those who have disrupted the traditions, broken the mold and tell their stories. Students will acknowledge the freedoms supported by Enlightened thinkers and analyze who exactly they were meant for. I want students to see how deeply European imperialism and Enlightenment ideals influenced cultures around the world. These views still permeate in contemporary, global culture. Many of these ideals created powerful systems while leaving other groups out - an exclusion that we are still grappling with today.
I want students to inform themselves and others about this historical legacy and feel compelled to break the cycle of these perspectives, allowing for the freedoms proposed to include everyone in society. By finding the counter narratives to the Enlightenment narrative, students will not only recognize who has benefitted from Enlightenment ideals and who has not, but they will find the stories of those who have broken the cycle and hopefully be inspired by them. Some of the best stories to tell are from students’ own families but any disruptor will do.”
Illinois Learning Standards for Social Science
SS.IS.1.9-12. Address essential questions that reflect an enduring issue in the field.
SS.IS.3.9-12. Develop new supporting and essential questions through investigation, collaboration, and using diverse sources.
SS.IS.4.9-12 Gather and evaluate information from multiple sources while considering the origin, credibility, point of view, authority, structure, context, and corroborative value of the sources.
SS.IS.6.9-12. Construct and evaluate explanations and arguments using multiple sources and relevant, verified information.
SS.IS.8.9-12. Use interdisciplinary lenses to analyze the causes and effects of and identify solutions to local, regional, or global concerns.
SS.IS.9.9-12. Use deliberative processes and apply democratic strategies and procedures to address local, regional or global concerns and take action in or out of school.
SS.H.1.9-12. Evaluate how historical developments were shaped by time and place as well as broader historical contexts.
SS.H.2.9-12. Analyze change and continuity within and across historical eras.
SS.H.5.9-12. Analyze the factors and historical context that influenced the perspectives of people during different historical eras.
SS.H.8.9-12. Analyze key historical events and contributions of individuals through a variety of perspectives, including those of historically underrepresented groups.