Revolutions Around the World

Revolutions are an interesting and informative way to study world history.

By Daniella Garran


Revolution lesson plans

For as long as man has inhabited the Earth, people have waged wars. Some battles were fought for resources, while others were for land or power. Other battles are the result of disagreements because of a difference in religious beliefs, while still others are waged over ideas and technology. History has witnessed multiple examples of each kind of battle, and, regardless of the outcome, the world was changed as a result. Some of these battles can be classified as revolutions. Revolutions have occurred on virtually every continent. For students studying US, Latin American, Asian or European history, revolutions figure prominently.

It is important for students to be able to compare and contrast the causes and effects of different revolutions. For example, in comparing the French Revolution to the Russian Revolution, it is important to consider the plight of the lower class (the Third Estate in France and proletariat in Russia). What were they hoping to achieve and why? How did they go about it?

Studying the art of revolutionary eras is one of the most effective ways to gain insight into the culture being studied. The art of Claude Manet, Eugene Delacroix and Jean-Auguste Ingres shows the impact the revolution had on the French lower class, and reflects the sentiment of the people. The art of Diego Rivera and Frida Khalo reflect the mood of the Mexican Revolution. After studying the artwork of these revolutions, students should be encouraged to paint or draw in the style of one of these artists - reflecting a modern social or political issue that they feel is important.

A great way to familiarize students with the various revolutions is to have them study and create political cartoons. Not only can students learn about the individuals involved in the revolutions, but they can also develop an understanding of how those individuals and the pertinent issues at hand were perceived by others.

It is critical that students read the literature and primary documents related to the revolutions they are studying. Excerpts from Leon Trotsky’s "Literature and Revolution," Karl Marx’s "Communist Manifesto," Victor Hugo’s "Les Miserables," and Samuel Ramos’ "Profile of Man and Culture in Mexico" should be read and analyzed. Students can compare and contrast the issues presented in both fiction and non-fiction. Below are some lesson plans on world revolutions.

Revolutions Around the World Lesson Plans:

The Evolution of Revolution

This comprehensive lesson allows students to draw on their understanding of the importance of and need for government, and how it is affected by popular uprisings and other revolutionary movements. Students examine revolutions in India, the United States and Germany through the lens of an individual who led these dramatic events: Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Christian Fuhrer in East Germany.

So You Say You Want a Revolution

Students compare and contrast the causes and effects of the American and French Revolutions. In the process, they become familiar with the political figures and issues that led the Third Estate to revolt in late eighteenth century France. This lesson is particularly well-suited for teachers looking for some self-guided research opportunities.

How Revolting!

This exceptionally creative unit allows an analysis of political, cultural, intellectual and industrial revolutions. Students become acquainted with the leaders of a variety of revolutionary movements and their motivations. Students also explore the impact of revolutionary thoughts and ideas on the world and that revolutions don’t always involve bloodshed.