British Imperialism: Orwell’s “Shooting An Elephant
This lesson is part of my 12th grade unit on British Imperialism. If you are interested in purchasing the entire unit as one bundle, it is available here.
I use this lesson as one part of my Imperialism Unit which is aimed at studying the literature of the era to uncover the perceptions and emotions of individuals caught on both sides of Imperialism. The concept of Imperialism involves the major work of nations (war, exploitation, servitude, enslavement), yet the literature exposes the conflicts, emotions, and true human nature of those people who lived within the social and political systems. I want my students to understand that there are people, relationships, conditions, choices, and motivations in every era of history; it is easy to judge historical events and figures from our contemporary standpoint, but it is important to remember that everybody has a back-story. These stories reveal that the relationships within the Imperialistic social structure were not always what they seemed.
This lesson includes:
Full text of Orwell’s “Shooting An Elephant” which is available in many 12 grade literature books. After some basic background discussion on Burma and the political situation at the time, my students were able to read and understand the story quite easily.
Guiding discussion questions requiring close reading and critical thinking.
Identification level multiple choice quiz on the text to ensure that students have done the reading.
Culminating prompt based on the theme “the price of saving face.”
Depending on your pacing, and if you assign portions of this work as homework, there are @ 1.5 classes of viewing, reading, interacting, discussion, and writing.
I provided background info at the end of one class, assigned the reading and guiding questions for homework, and administered the quiz at the beginning of the next class period. If the majority of students had done the reading, we proceeded with class discussion based on the questions; if they hadn’t, I spent more time on reading selected passages to be sure the students understood the story. After discussion, students completed the prompt.
Key Words: British Literature, Imperialism, Theme, Writing, 12th Grade, Orwell, CCSS Aligned