(for middle school students)
Marieke van Woerkom
learn about Egypt and look at the mass protests that helped
overthrow the man who had ruled Egypt for 30 years.
the notion of "power in numbers" in nonviolent conflict
a video that links the Egypt uprising to Dr. Martin Luther King's
words on nonviolence
and Emotional Skills:
how to stand up to violence, oppression and injustice in nonviolent
that beyond "fight or flight" there is a third response:
"assertive" which is active without being aggressive
about the power of cooperation
agenda on chart paper or on the board
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said "there is power in
numbers and there is power in unity." In pairs ask your class
to discuss this idea.
and Introduction (10 minutes)
Explain that in today's lesson you will be finding out about the
kind of "nonviolent action" that took place in Egypt
by asking if any of your students are aware of why Egypt has been
in the news these past few weeks. Explain that Egypt is an important
country in an area of the world we call the Middle or Near East.
If you have a map in your classroom, point to this region of the
world, which encompasses parts of Western Asia and North Africa.
Egypt is the largest and most populous country in the Middle East.
Ask if your students know of any other countries in the Middle
East. Point them out on the map.
has a very old culture and civilization that students may have
studied in elementary school. Ask them what they remember from
those lessons and point to the ancient Egyptian rulers called
Pharaohs and the pyramids that were built as tombs to protect
the Pharaoh's body after death. Part of this protection was embalming
dead bodies into mummies and your students may recall the various
artifacts that were buried with Pharaoh for his journey to the
afterlife. It is these artifacts that have allowed us to learn
about ancient Egyptian culture in such detail. Finally, your students
may have studied hieroglyphs, one of the oldest writing systems
in the world. Through hieroglyphs, we've learned about ancient
Egyptians' gods and goddesses, their mythology -- as well as ancient
Egyptian customs and daily life.
recent weeks, we've been hearing the story of a modern day Pharaoh
in Egypt - President Hosni Mubarak who has ruled Egypt for 30
years. As in ancient Egypt, any person or group that disagreed
with the Egyptian ruler was considered a threat to the stability
of the country. For decades, President Mubarak and his security
forces used threats and violence to quash disagreement and opposition.
In this way, the people of Egypt were scared into compliance and
conformity. They were submissive despite their frustration and
anger over the high levels of poverty and unemployment that many
of them experienced. Meanwhile the President and his family amassed
huge amounts of wealth through corruption and outright theft.
this changed in the past few weeks, as the people of Egypt came
into their own and discovered that there is power in numbers.
They became assertive. They shared their grievances and anger,
not through violence and aggression, but by going into the streets
in large numbers, protesting the regime of President Hosni Mubarak
in peaceful and very powerful ways.
Submissive or Assertive (15 minutes)
people, when faced with violence, either confront it with violence
of their own or they turn away and try avoid the situation altogether.
This old survival mechanism is known as the "fight or flight
response." People may fight using aggressive means to try
to get their needs met. They may also flee or give in, acting
submissively, which may not result in getting their needs met.
There is a third way though, an assertive response - and that's
where nonviolent action comes in.
your students can probably imagine, it is not easy to face threats
and violence in an active and nonviolent way. It is for this reason
that nonviolent action requires planning and careful coordination.
if your students think it is possible to fight violence and
injustice successfully using nonviolent actions.
they know the names Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mohandas Gandhi
or Nelson Mandela?
do they know about these people? What do the three have in common?
that all three mobilized large groups of people to use nonviolent
action successfully against violent and oppressive regimes. In
Egypt, there was no one such leader of the resistance movement.
Instead, several groups of youth activists decided they'd had
enough - they decided to coordinate, organize and mobilize through
social networking sites, reaching out and joining with others
who were similarly frustrated with the Mubarak regime.
towards the end of January, following successful nonviolent protests
in Tunisia, young Egyptians courageously went out into the streets
to assert their dissatisfaction in peaceful ways. Although not
all the protesters agreed on their vision for Egypt's future,
they all unified around one specific call: Mubarak must step down.
These young people set a powerful example for the rest of the
Egyptian people, many of whom were equally dissatisfied but had
been afraid to speak out against the regime.
there was power in numbers - and some safety in numbers--increasingly
more people were encouraged to join. Eventually the massive protests
that resulted brought down the Mubarak regime on Friday, February
across the region and the world were amazed and inspired by what
Dr. Martin Luther King Encourages Egyptians
Show the following 2:27 minute clip titled Dr. Martin Luther King
Encourages Egyptians: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DX3dnH7Zrqc
students to share their thoughts and discuss some or all of the
did they think about the images?
did they think about the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King?
words of wisdom that Dr. King shared with the Egyptians resonated
with you? Why?
you think Dr. Kings' words relate to what is happening in Egypt
now - and in other Middle Eastern countries that are also rising
some of Dr. King's quotes from the clip (listed below):
- "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about
things that matter."
- "In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies
but the silence of our friends."
- "This is a nonviolent protest, we're defending our valor
and spiritual forces."
- "I am convinced that the most potent weapon available to
oppressed people as they struggle for freedom and justice is the
weapon of nonviolence."
justice and injustice:
- "Injustice anywhere is a treat to justice everywhere"
- "We are demanding that this city will respect the dignity
of labor. So often we overlook the worth and the significance
of those who are not in professional jobs, of those who are not
in the so-called big jobs, but let me say to you tonight that
whenever you are engaged in work that serves humanity and is for
the building of humanity, it has dignity and it has worth."
Closing (5 minutes)
there is a message that you would like to share with the Egyptian
people, what would it be?
lesson was written for TeachableMoment by Marieke van Woerkom,
a trainer and global facilitator who works as a staff developer
for Morningside Center. See her website at: http://vanwoerkomprojects.com.
welcome your comments. Please email them to Marieke at: firstname.lastname@example.org,or
to Morningside Center at: email@example.com.