Meg Herndon/Cynthia Alexander
Journey in Africa
Summer Seminar 2009
Lesson Plan: Man’s Burden
Vertical Teaming Lesson: Formative discussion
Objective: Students will gain a deeper understanding by combining English 10 and
12 students studying colonial presence in Africa during the late 19th Century after
reading Things Fall Apart and Heart of Darkness respectively.
Grade: Combined 10th regular and 12th Grade AP students
Resources & Preparation:
Print out poems from http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/6609/]
“White Man’s Burden”
“Black Man’s Burden”
Prior to the day of the lesson, English 10 students will receive a packet of
materials to consider with guiding questions.
As you read, answer the following questions to guide your
understanding of the poems.
1. According to Kipling, and in your own words, what was the "White
2. What reward did Kipling suggest the "White Man" gets for
carrying his "burden"?
3. Who did Kipling think would read his poem? What do you think
that this audience might have said in response to it?
4. For what audiences do you think H.T. Johnson and George McNeil
wrote their poems? How do you think those audiences might have
responded to "The Black Man’s Burden" and "The Poor Man’s
Timeline for project:
Homework prior to class: Read the poems in the packet.
One 90-minute block
1. Students finish the required grade level books.
2. Classes meet in a common location to find eight (8) Colonial cartoons and/or
ads depicting various racist attitudes (samples below). In small, assigned
heterogeneous groups of about six (6), they complete a carousel marking
their observations about the attitudes reflected in the images.
3. Again in small groups, students read “White Man’s Burden” by Rudyard
Kipling. Students will be paired with members of the other class to color-
mark adjectives, images, and tone words in both poems.
4. Students discuss their own books in pairs: Where in each of the books do
we see characters bearing the Colonial vision of the “white man’s burden”?
How do the other characters react to that person(s)?
5. Groups answer questions in writing:
a. What does it mean to be human?
b. Does one group ever have the right to control another?
c. Are there different degrees of humanity?
d. When, if ever, must one culture interfere in another? Can one culture
ever intervene in a positive way?
e. Do we have any historical examples of people who have gone in and
helped another culture? Why or why not? Do we have any modern
6. Gather the answers to the questions that have been answered in writing.
Teachers read portions of the answers to the whole group and solicit
7. Final activity: Snowball review—Students answer an open-ended question,
wad up their papers and throw them around the room. Each finds one and
reads it. Teachers solicit “interesting responses” for closure.
REFLECTIVE QUESTION: What is one man’s responsibility to another, or
one nation’s responsibility to another?
[See “Images of Africa” PowerPoint for more images and explanations.]
[Though this plan teams two classes at different levels, the same plan will work for
students in a single class or combination of classes at the same level.]