This 2-3 day lesson plan focuses on the factors that came together in Rwanda that led to the genocide of 1994. All needed materials are provided (including links to two online video clips) except for Post-It style notes which will be used for student groups when they share decisions with the class.
In addition to the subject content, the lesson also addresses Common Core State Literacy Standards for History/Social Studies.
I must say that I was pretty upset when Oklahoma's new state standards required that I teach the Rwandan genocide to 7th graders. I have never seen materials on that particular genocide that did not focus on the most graphic and horrifying parts of that tragedy. (In contast, there are many age-appropriate materials on the WW2 Holocaust that are appropriate for a large range of ages.) Young adolescents will react strongly to graphic images of real violence. Typically, they will either be extremely upset and obsessed by it (including nightmares) or will laugh about it as a way to protect themselves from the reality of it. Neither of those reactions will help them understand the causes or preventions of genocide. So I wrote this lesson to meet a need for my own students.
This lesson does not use graphic images of violence. If you use this with high school students, you can easily find more information online that you may want to use to supplement this material (including YouTube, and I suggest one specific source for older students in the lesson plan) However, that will not change the main emphasis of exploring causes instead of focusing on the horrors.
This lesson has two main objectives:
-- The student will understand some of the multiple factors that must co-exist before genocide becomes possible.
-- The student will understand the long-term impact of European colonization on the economic and social development of Rwanda, including the widening of cultural, economic, and political differences between the Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa ethnic groups.