Does anybody have any ideas on how to engage students with an exciting activity based on The Prince?

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dbello | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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I am guessing that you are teaching 10th grade global history and must commend you!! Teaching fifteen year olds Machaivelli just proves how tough and dedicated we are!!!!

I teach 12th grade American government/ political science. I use The Prince to demonstrate the power of politics and the political mind. Not easy for 12th graders, more difficult for 10th graders, however I developed an activity that I think makes Machiavellian theory easier for our students.

I create a Machiavellian kingdom and a kingdom based on Humanism. Teach both the Machiavellian and Humanist approaches to ruling a kingdom. It works best if you divide the students into groups. Depending upon the size of your class, try to have at least four groups. The more groups the better the results, but four will allow the students to see the 'shades' that politics has, although two take a Machiavellian  approach and two take a Humanist approach there will be differences within the two sides, no better way to illustrate the power of politics.Create a series of tasks/questions that each king is required to deal with, same questions, however the Machaivellian kingdom must address the tasks from a Machiavellian perspective and the Humanists' kingdom from a Humanist point of view. Allow creativity within the kingdoms, let the students create a royal crest, name the king and identify those responsible for governing or at least assisting the king in matters of state.Allow all groups to present their 'political philosophy'. It has been my experience that both sides will come up with solid arguments for their particular perspective, and it is in that realization that the students will understand Machiavellian thought. I think the best way to teach any philosophy is to put it up against an alternative philosophy. A great follow-up to this project is to apply these lessons to the world today. Addressing the different perspectives and how they might or might not effect change in global politics from the students' perspective. Which would have a more positive influence-negative influence and why? For example, does it have to be one way or the other?, is there room for both types of ideologies? and if so does one have an upper hand? Which kingdoms' political philosophy will insure their survival? Which depicts political reality, and what if any does the role of morality play? 

I hope this helps you. It is only a framework, I often moditfy the project to fit the class from semester to semester. The students like the project because they can investigate the material, compare with one another, and of course a little 'old fashion political competition' always gets them engaged!!!!!!!  

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