Students will brainstorm and make judgments about people from pop culture as “great” or “not great”. They will then explore the life and actions of Alexander of Macedonia. After viewing a creative model from their teacher (if you feel comfortable doing so since it involves singing), they will explore how to express Alexander as a great or not great leader with their own adjective. Students have complete freedom in how they want to complete the assessment, and I will provide some sample ideas to you so you get a feel for what I have seen students do in the past.
Rationale for the lesson
This lesson will challenge students to challenge what they are told. So often in social studies class, students accept what their teacher or text presents while not thinking there might be other viewpoints. Most of the time, this acceptance is engrained in the students’ habit of compliance. The inspiration for this lesson comes years ago when our district bought a textbook that had a section on “Alexander the Great”. After reading “Alexander” by Dr. Norman Cantor, I realized how biased the textbook was. Although I admired much about Alexander, I felt the textbook did a disservice to our students by not presenting both sides. Even including “great” as part of his title implies a position. Therefore, I refer to him as Alexander of Macedonia, and allow students to come to their own conclusions.
Prerequisite knowledge and skills
None. If students have studied ancient Greece, that is great but not required. You can use this lesson with students who have learned about Alexander already; you can see how well they can look at both sides of an issue. You can also use this lesson to teach about Alexander to students who have no background knowledge. You can also use this lesson in a language arts class that doesn’t necessarily study history, but within a lesson on bias or critical reading. If you wanted to get a lot of cool points from your school, you could use this lesson as a music teacher...just touch base with a social studies teacher at your school and if they teach Alexander, you could help out the musical aspect for students.