Monday, May 7, 2018

Legacy of Nonviolence: Mahatma Gandhi (Level 4 Twentieth Century History)


by Michael Nicholson

I wrote last August about our plans for the last unit of twentieth century history on Asia, drawing from the Mater Amabilis™ lesson plans for History.

I chose this biography of Gandhi for our study of India from our library's selections. I have not read any other biographies. I simply checked out every book from our library catalog that looked like it might work and then skimmed parts of them looking for something that could be read in two or three sessions over the course of a week by an eighth grader. This one seemed about right.

I only read the biography as I prepared for this week's lessons, but I found it to be insightful and well-written.
Gandhi was born into a land of contrasts: of desert plains, vast rivers, dense jungles, and the highest mountains on Earth. The climate of India is hot in the plains and cool in the highlands, but the vastness of the country creates great variety. India's peoples were separated from each other not only by the sheer difficulty of travel from one region to another, but also by different habits, religions, and more than three hundred languages.
It covers the time Gandhi spent as a student in England and as a lawyer in South Africa in addition to his devotion to his home country of India. It is illustrated with photographs from Gandhi's lifetime and stills from the movie Gandhi. Many of the pages also contain quotes in the margins of those who knew and encountered Gandhi during his lifetime.
Mohandas Gandhi was the light of reason and the voice of love, tolerance, and peace in a century of violence. The little man in the loincloth left behind far more than his modest possessions. He left a legacy of nonviolent protest that has influenced thousands since his death.
We see in the daily news continuous evidence of conflict between those of different faiths and unrelenting poverty remaining in many places in the world. We see leaders who do not live out their faith or philosophy, who seek their own gain without regard for the powerless. Gandhi is a courageous example of a man who lived exactly as he preached, who devoted his entire life to the service of his people. He is the kind of man I want to put before my children and therefore, this brief glimpse of India is an excellent part of our twentieth century history study.

I opted to combine the readings into two days rather than three because we will need to finish school a week or two earlier than planned to accommodate unanticipated June activities. Even so, I think it might be interesting to combine the readings this way to allow a third lesson that looks at India and Pakistan since independence. I have a few years to find something before my daughter is in Level 4.

Updated plans (original plans here):

Lesson 1
Kingfisher History Encyclopedia p 366-367 and p 421
Mahatma Gandhi pp 5-29. Narrate.

Lesson 2
Mahatma Gandhi pp 30-60.
MapTrek Modern World Map 37: Independent for India
Read an eyewitness account of the assassination of Gandhi in1948 at Eyewitness to History
Listen to Jawaharlal Nehru’s extempore broadcast on All India Radio announcing the news of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination on January 30, 1948 and read the text of the speech he gave three days later, found in your Google Doc.
Notebook – Write a brief biography of Gandhi.
Add an event to your Book of Centuries.

Lesson 3 (omitted this year)
-something on India and Pakistan in the years since independence

Our library has the movie, Gandhi, which we may try to watch. It's hard to fit in videos that I don't want the little ones to see since they don't actually sleep before First Son is in bed and I'm not sure I want to juggle our lives around trying to fit this video in, though I imagine it would be a powerful complement to the biography.

I checked this book out of the library. Links to Amazon are affiliate links. The opinions in this post are my own.

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