Creating a Lesson Plan

Here is a model for devising a day’s lesson plan:

  1. For your day’s topic, come up with 1-3 ideas that you want to convey – these will likely be related to the assigned reading for the class period. 
    • Why did you assign this reading? What are the main ideas you want students to get from the reading and classroom discussion?
    • Ex: How did an anthropological focus on culture, lead to a disavowal of processes of racialization? Why does this matter?
  2. What are some themes conveyed in your text/online reading material? Do you want to reinforce/reject these?
    • Ex: Visweswaran argues that the origins of ‘culture’ are inextricably connected to race precisely because ‘culture’ comes to signify everything that race is not. I chose this article to provide a foundational understanding of the complicated relationship, within anthropology, between race and culture. The main idea I would want students to take away is to rethink and complicate their own “common sense” (hegemonic) ideas about race and culture. I maintain that their ideas are valid, but anthropology can help us investigate where these ideas come from. Are these ideas ‘accurate’? Who do they benefit? Who do they hurt?
  3. What ideas should I review/spring from in my previous class?
    • This builds off the previous day’s discussion we had about what is culture (typical answers: food, tradition, religion, clothing). Usually, students never say ‘race’, and I point out the significance of this.
  4. What idea(s) should I lay the groundwork for in my next class?
    • How does this distinction (between culture and race) show up in contemporary anthropological texts? Using an ethnography of American anthropology from the perspective of a Kenyan anthropologist (Reversed Gaze 2010), shows how the social location of the researcher matters in the production of anthropological knowledge. For a Kenyan new to the United States, he finds an anthropological avoidance of foregrounding race and racializaiton, to be utterly confusing (as for him, American culture is obsessed with race, whether or not Americans realize it, or open discuss it, or not).
  5. Are there audio/visual materials you can use to make the material ‘come alive’ to your students?  
    • Pictures and short bios of the author(s) – so the students see who they are reading
    • Visweswaran focuses on the ways Franz Boas ( the “father” of American anthropology) strives for an antiracist anthropology, paradoxically reinscribes the racial hierarchies he sets out to dismantle. Include an image and short bio of Franz Boas
    • Definition and related images of “scientific racism”
      • Image of Lewis Henry Morgan scheme of cultural evolution
    • Definition and related images to define “cultural racism”
    • Short video on the problem of color-blind racism
  6. How will you teach the concepts you’ve laid out?
    • Have students work in groups and come up with examples from the reading to answer the following questions:
      • Who (which groups of people, race/class/gender) first promoted the idea that race is biological? Why did they want to promote this idea? When did this happen (what was the broader historical context)?
      • Why and how did Boas try to challenge the idea of scientific racism?
      • What is the problem with saying “race is just a social construct, so if everyone stopped acting like it was ‘real’, it would go away”?
  7. This is already a lot to get through! 
    • While it may be helpful to have more activities planned than you will have time for, it is also very helpful to know ahead of time, what are the main things you want to make sure you get through in the class time.