Social Studies – Grade 12 Close this window
  What's this?

Challenges to Liberalism

  • Identify the most prominent complaints about liberal practices.
  • Create a visual essay that represents a position on the viability of communism and fascism.

Assessment Outcomes References Related Resources

Suggested Activities

Students determine the viability of ideologies that developed in response to liberalism during the 20th century by creating a visual essay that represents a position based on the assessment of the theories and practices of alternative ideologies.

Use a graffiti exercise to connect to previous knowledge
In order to develop students’ background knowledge of ideologies, ask them to participate in a graffiti exercise.

Place several sheets of chart paper around the room. Write the name of one ideological system identified in the program of studies on each sheet of chart paper. Examples include classic conservatism, Marxism, socialism, welfare capitalism, communism and fascism (30-1) and socialism, Marxism, communism and fascism (30-2). Group an equal number of students around each sheet of chart paper. Explain that students will have a limited amount of time, such as two minutes, to write everything they know about the ideology named on their chart paper. Consider providing prompts such as the following:

  • Where and how did the ideology originate?
  • Who has power?
  • How is wealth distributed?
  • Who has rights?
  • What are the main principles or values of the ideology?
  • What is the main goal of the ideology?

Explain that two of these ideologies, fascism and communism, will be explored in greater depth to assess the degree to which they provide viable alternatives to liberalism. The graffiti charts can be revisited and revised as the challenge is addressed.

  1. Identify the most prominent complaints about liberal practices.

Identify significant complaints about liberalism
Invite students to identify aspects of liberalism that have historically sparked the greatest discontent or resistance. You may wish to refer to The Impacts of Liberalism in the 19th Century (Critical Challenge) or other sources for more information regarding the elements of liberalism.

As a class, create a list of the most contentious aspects of classical liberalism. Responses might include that the disadvantaged are not provided for, or not all people are given equal rights in practice.

Instruct students to create a top-five list of the most significant complaints about liberalism. The criteria for comparing significance could be used for determining the most contentious aspects of liberalism. You may wish to refer to Comparing Significant Events, Ideas or People (Support Material) for more information regarding criteria for comparing significance.

Identify criteria for viability
After identifying the top five complaints about liberalism, ask students to consider what criteria would be useful in determining the extent to which other ideologies provide viable alternatives to the principles (30-1) and values (30-2) of liberalism. Criteria for evaluating alternatives to liberalism might include the following:

  • feasibility
    • Are these alternative ideas probable and workable?
    • Would it be practical to implement these ideas?
  • effectiveness
    • Will these ideas address perceived problems and shortcomings of liberalism?
    • Will these ideas produce desirable results?
  • sustainability
    • To what extent will these ideas be supported by a majority of citizens?
    • Will these ideas work over the long term?

Examine other ideologies in theory and in practice
Provide students with a graphic organizer to record the information they gather and to help them assess the viability of fascism and communism. Ask students to use background knowledge to fill out the graphic organizer.

You may wish to refer to Analyzing Opposition to Liberalism: Other Ideologies (Lesson Material) to structure this activity.

As an alternative, students might be asked to research the principles (30-1) or values (30-2) of a particular ideology and to share this research with the class. Explain that, just as with liberalism, the theory behind an ideology may not always be evident in practice. Inform students that they will be examining the theories and practices of fascism and communism in order to determine the extent to which they present viable alternatives to liberalism. Remind students that these two ideological systems rejected liberalism.

As a prereading activity, students could be encouraged to view dramatizations of the practices of fascism and communism. Consider showing clips of movies such as Swing Kids to provide a picture of Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and Dr. Zhivago to illustrate life in the Soviet Union during the upheavals that occurred from 1905 through 1921. Encourage students to identify and record quotes that present points of view on the strengths or weaknesses of each ideology. For example, students might record a quote that reflects a character’s support of fascism based on increased economic growth and nationalism. 

B. Create a visual essay that represents a position on the viability of communism and fascism.

Option 1: Group Visual Essays

Collect information
Instruct students to use the retrieval chart and the criteria to guide the collection of information about the theories and practices of communism and fascism. Remind students that this information will be used to create visual essays that determine the viability of the ideologies that developed in response to liberalism. Encourage students to gather quotes, headlines and images for use in the essays.

You may wish to adapt the chart Assembling Information in Collecting Information (Support Material) to structure this activity.

Create the visual essay
Inform students that a visual essay, like a written essay, is designed to support a central thesis. The first step is to create a thesis that reflects conclusions developed from the evidence gathered. Invite students to share their thoughts on what criteria might be used to determine the viability of an ideology by referring to the criteria for a viable ideology developed in the first part of the challenge.

Organize the class into groups and provide each group with a large sheet of poster paper or with appropriate technologies. Instruct students to place the thesis statement so that it is the centre of focus. The supporting evidence should be arranged and presented appropriately. Supporting evidence could include photographs, drawings, cartoons and historical maps, as well as headlines and quotes. Discuss ways that different types of information may be used to support the message of the thesis.

To address the specific outcomes for technology, have students create the visual essay using appropriate technologies including appropriate citations for the digital sources.

Before beginning the creation of the visual essay, invite students to consider what criteria could be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a visual essay. Criteria could include the following:

  • plausibility of the thesis statement
  • quality of the evidence
  • strength of the relationship between the thesis statement and evidence
  • effective visual representation.

Option 2: Individual Visual Essays

Lessons from the Past (Summative assessment)
Distribute the student task sheet Lessons from the Past (Lesson Material). Ask students to create an effective visual essay to be posted on a museum Web site.

Use the Rubric for Lessons from the Past (Assessment) to evaluate student performance on the various criteria of the task.

Last updated: January 30, 2009 | (Revision History)
Copyright | Feedback
Back to top