To understand how the philosophes helped alter patterns of thought among the people of Europe during the 1700s.
1 class period
The activity begins by reading with the class background information about how writings of philosophes led to the period called the Enlightenment.
Next, students see a chart which lists statements once given by four leading thinkers of the 1700s (John Locke, Baron de Montesquieu, Voltaire, Jean Jacques Rousseau) whose ideas were eventually accepted by countries in Europe and around the world. Class members must then decide whether each of these statements is a true description of present-day American life by answering yes or no.
Following the chart exercise, there are three questions that require brief written answers using critical thinking skills.
To conclude the lesson, class members are presented with a group of beliefs that were shared by most philosophes. Students will then read through a list of actions and events in world history and decide whether they think the philosophes would have approved or disapproved.
Easy-to-follow Teacher Instructions and answer key included, along with a 20-question follow up quiz to measure student progress. The quiz can also be given as a homework assignment or used as a review exercise later in the school year.