1. Give students about 5 minutes to answer and elaborate on the following question: To what extent are Gandhi’s ideas of nonviolence realistic in today’s world? Students are encouraged to think at local, national, and global levels. Students share responses with the class. Using Gandhi’s ideas as a starting place, discuss with students the qualities, thoughts, and actions of a nonviolent person in today’s world. Make a list of the attributes your students come up with on butcher paper and tape this list to the classroom wall.
2. Students identify a person in their community or an organization that they believe is carrying on Gandhi’s legacy of nonviolence. Students may need the teacher’s help with this task. Those students who chose a community member as an example will interview their subject about how they incorporate nonviolent philosophy in their work and life. The ‘Great Questions’ list at the Story Corps’ website is an excellent resource for generating interview questions. Those students who chose an organization will visit its website to identify examples of nonviolent philosophy in its work. Students should consider core ideas and beliefs as well as tactics of nonviolent direct action informing the organization’s work. The mission statement section of the websites are good places to start. Students write an essay on the following prompt:
- How does the person you interviewed or the organization you researched carry on Gandhi’s legacy of nonviolence? Use at least two Gandhi quotes to make your case.
Options: Teachers can tailor this activity to the needs and interests of their classroom. If students choose local organizations to research, they can interview people working there. If students are interested in the continuation of Gandhi’s legacy in his birth country, India, they can select to research Indian organizations. Some examples are:
- Sahr Waru, Women’s Action and Resource Unit, (sahrwaruindia.org),
- Manav Sadhna (http://www.manavsadhna.org),
- Pratham (http:// www.pratham.org),
- Childline India (http://www.childlineindia.org.in),
- C.R.Y. (Child Relief and You), India (http://www.cry.org/index.html), among many others.
Inform students that Gandhi was concerned about many issues such as education, uplifting women, communal and religious harmony, rural industry development, sanitation, and economic equality.
3. Students work in small groups of 3-4 to choose an injustice at the local, national, or global level. Encourage students to select issues of personal relevance or concern to them. Using the nine steps outlined in Part One as a guideline, students develop and write out a sequence of actions that can be taken to address the injustice, as if planning a nonviolent direct action campaign.
4. Extension Activity: Interested students can work with their schools, communities, or local organizations to put these steps they developed into practice against their chosen injustice. Refer students to the Albert Einstein’s Institute’s ‘198 Methods of Nonviolent Action’ (https://www.aeinstein.org/) to identify possible nonviolent actions they can take against injustice. Here are some additional suggestions for activities: lunch hour teach-ins, ‘Day of nonviolence,’ and honoring community members who carry on Gandhi’s legacy.
- Bondurant, Joan. Conquest of Violence: The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988.
- Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The Meaning of the Sit-Ins. 1 August 1960.
- Dalton, Dennis. ed. Mahatma Gandhi: Selected Political Writings. Indianapolis, Indiana: Hackett Publishing Co., 1996.
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