An Introduction to Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience

What is right isn't always lawful — and what is lawful isn't always right. Such is the argument of Henry David Thoreau's Civil Disobedience, which contends that it is the duty of the citizen to disobey the authority of the government when said authority does not align with truth and justice. A brief video analysis takes high schoolers through the main points of Thoreau's ideas.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas

  • Connect to a unit on the civil rights movement of the 1960's and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's philosophy, or when discussing Mahatma Ghandi
  • Use the video and/or Thoreau's text to begin an argument essay about the effectiveness of civil disobedience
Classroom Considerations

  • Opens with an advertisement that you can skip
  • Find the complete analysis on the publisher's website; full version is available with a paid subscription or trial membership
Pros

  • Places Thoreau in the context of other leaders who believed in the importance of civil disobedience
  • Simplifies the complex language of the original text
  • Argument is relevant to current issues in society and politics
Cons

  • None