Can your Students Spot a Fascist? Starring Scott Elliott

If you’ve taught a humanities class, you’ve probably recognized how frequently Adolf Hitler comes up. Unfortunately, many kid’s understanding of Hitler and Fascism doesn’t expand much past the Holocaust.

Scott Elliott teaches 9th Grade World History with me.

Scott Elliott scottelliott@bwls.net

Right before Christmas Break, we were yakking about how we could teach Fascism, our first unit in January, in a more engaging and impactful way. Scott found a wonderful resource which formed the backbone of the assignment. The article is by Laurence W. Britt and is entitled Fascism Anyone. The assignment we created challenged kids to rate WWII leaders on the 14 Characteristics Britt articulates and also to apply them to current leaders with authoritarian traits. Here’s a link to the hyperdoc we posted on Google Classroom. Below, are Britt’s list of 14 Fascist Characteristics:

  1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. 
  2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. 
  3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.
  4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. 
  5. Rampant sexism.
  6. A controlled mass media. 
  7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite.
  8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. 
  9. Power of corporations protected.
  10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. 
  11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.
  12. Obsession with crime and punishment. 
  13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. 
  14. Fraudulent elections. 

This turned into a solid activity in our World History class, but the lesson can be applied outside of the humanities. Perhaps, there are misunderstandings about important concepts in other subjects. I can certainly think of examples in Science. Challenge kids to apply agreed-upon standards to a set of contentious circumstances.

Episode Template

 The Problem:

Students freely use words like Fascist, Nazi, and Hitler with limited knowledge of these label’s broader meanings.

The Solution:

Expose kids to what Fascism is and then challenge them to apply it.

What you can do Tomorrow:

  • If you teach a humanities course and Fascism is a topic, please steal our lesson and morph it to fit your needs.
  • If you teach a non-humanities class, take a controversial or misunderstood topic, expose students to some agreed-upon standards and then challenge them to apply that knowledge.

Please inspire your kids to pursue objective truth relentlessly. Assignments such as this will nurture this essential disposition!

A quick program note…I referenced in the podcast Rosa Parks bus protest, but I inadvertently placed it in Birmingham instead of Montgomery where it belongs. Sorry!

Listen to “James Sturtevant Hacking Engagement” on Spreaker.

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