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The Soviet Union and the Fall of Communism

Produced by Katherine Temesvary, St. Augustine School, 1997

Description

The Soviet Union, a world power, crossing eleven time zones, with a population of 287,000,000, has disintegrated and broken into 15 diverse units. This action has had major economic and political repercussions throughout the world and will continue to do so. This teaching unit will attempt to gain information on the Soviet Union and its collapse and to investigate the overwhelming problems to be faced by the peoples of each republic. Our investigation will consist primarily of super-imposing this "scenario" on the United States in terms of breaking it into five republics and attempting to address the problems in a cooperative group method. This approach was selected because of its unique comparison across regions and also because of the students' knowledge and emotional attachment to the United States.

Objectives

  1. To gain information on Soviet life (pre-1989) through research and guest lecturer ( an emigre from Cuba).
  2. To investigate the major problems to be solved in the break-up of a world power.
  3. To gain an understanding between the capitalist and communist systems.
  4. To gain insight into the role of government with respect to the welfare of the people.
  5. To examine how groups with a separate identity can function without conflict.

Day 1: Soviet Union prior to 1989.

Procedure:

  1. Students will have been assigned research on the Soviet Union and will be sharing their reports.
  2. Guest speaker from Cuba will share their personal story (Questions & Answers).
  3. Using ISOP handout on ranking values, students will individually rank their values.
  4. Using ISOP handout from The Collective Legacy, "The Earthquake", students will read and discuss peasant life.
  5. Students will be assigned composition on personal freedoms to be returned in three days for evaluation.

Day 2: The Fall of Communism and the Restructuring of the Republics.

Procedure:

  1. Students will orally read and discuss a reprint from Time magazine Sept. 2,1991, "The Russian Revolution."
  2. Students will examine ISOP handout of time-line (1989-1994) compiled by Dr. Raby.
  3. Students will form groups to analyze major problems of new republics (with assistance if needed) covering topics such as--domestic & international economy, crime, social problems, political power, nuclear sites, military, border disputes, etc.

Day 3: American Revolution II--A Simulated Restructuring of the United States into 5 Republics.

Procedure:

  1. Students will be placed randomly into one of 5 groups:West, East, North, South and Central.
  2. Each group will decide the following: name of region, designate borders, design flag, select currency, determine population, natural resources, and establish a government.
  3. Students will analyze problems each section will have to face such as trade,banking, transportation, immigration, health care, welfare, education, military.
  4. Responses will be charted on large butcher paper on day four.

Debrief and Evaluation: Students will answer the following questions and be evaluated in their respective groups.

  1. What external forces played a role in the fall of Communism?
  2. What impact did the arms race have on the fall of Communism?
  3. What immediate problems did the new republics have to face?
  4. As a citizen, would you be in favor of a planned economy or a free-market economy? Explain.
  5. What form of help should new republics receive from established world powers?

Students will be evaluated individually on their "Personal freedoms" compositions and research on Russia. The primary grade for this unit will come from their group efforts of the activities in day three.

Extension:

Students will turn their focus on current activities in Cuba, creating an information board using newspapers and periodicals with continual update.

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