Unit 0: Rules, Procedures & Themes

China: Global Studies Lesson Plans and Units

Unit 6: China

Foundations of American Government

The Need for Government: A Cinematic and Literary Perspective

The Need for Government—A Cinematic and Literary Perspective

Class Length: 2-4 Class Meetings


Students will be able to:

1. Relate the philosophy of politics and government.

2. Critically analyze the different forms and services of government.

3. Imagine and describe a statue of nature, and identify its advantages and disadvantages.


- Movie clips from Cast Away (2000)(cited reference #1)

- Excerpt from Mark Twain’s Roughing It (cited reference #2)

- Copies of texts from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden (cited reference #3)

- William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies (cited reference #4)

- Art supplies

- Poster board

- TV and DVD/VHS player


Students will begin the class with a quick write:

- Think of all the rules you follow every day. Think about all the people who enforce these rules. Are there too many rules? Too many enforcers? What would happen if there were no rules and no people in authority? Think about emergency situations, crimes, important tasks that need to get done. How would things get resolved? How would it be determined who is in charge? How would you get what you need and protect your rights? Your family’s rights?

After students have completed these quick writes ask them to form groups of three or four. Within these groups students should read their entries to one another. In groups students should consider whether or not they would like to live in this kind of society. Challenge them to explain their rationales.

Now ask students if they’ve ever read any literature or seen any movies about lawless societies. Make a list of these titles.

Inform students that in this lesson they will have the opportunity to consider several well known literary texts that describe lawless societies. In groups of two or three, ask students to complete the questions on the worksheet entitled, “Literary Texts and Lawlessness”.

Literary Texts and Lawlessness

Roughing It

The devil seems to have again broken loose in our town. Pistols and guns explode and knives gleam in our streets as in early times. When there has been a long season of quiet, people are slow to wet their hands in blood; but once blood is spilled, cutting and shooting come easy.

Night before last Jack Williams was assassinated, and yesterday forenoon we had more bloody work, growing out of the killing of Williams, and on the same street in which he met his death. It appears that Tom Reeder, a friend of Williams, and George Gumbert were talking, at the meat market of the latter, about the killing of Williams the previous night, when Reeder said it was a most cowardly act to shoot a man in such a way, giving him "no show." [After some more arguing,] Gumbert drew a knife and stabbed Reeder, cutting him in two places in the back.

Reeder [was] taken into the office of Dr. Owens, where his wounds were properly dressed. [Being] considerably under the influence of liquor, Reeder did not feel his wounds as he otherwise would, and he got up and went into the street.

He went to the meat market and renewed his quarrel with Gumbert, threatening his life. After these threats Gumbert went off and procured a double-barreled shot gun. [He came back, and shot Reeder twice. The doctors examined him and said it was almost impossible for him to recover.]

At the time that this occurred, there were a great many persons on the street in the vicinity, and a number of them called out to Gumbert when they saw him raise his gun, to "hold on," and "don't shoot!"

After the shooting, the street was instantly crowded with inhabitants of that part of the town, some appearing much excited and laughing; declaring that it looked like the "good old times of '60."...It was whispered around that it was not all over yet; five or six more were to be killed before night.

1. What problems arose in the town because there was no effective authority?

2. How might authority be used to resolve these problems?

William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies, and watch a clip of Cast Away (2000): Scenes of the stranded man trying to break coconuts and make fire. Students will analyze these passages and answer the following questions:

1. How is “nature” described in the texts and movie clip?

2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being in a state of nature?

Students will be asked to describe their ideal world. Consider the following:

1. What rules would you make/break

2. Who would lead?

3. How would tasks/jobs be distributed?

  1. Where would food come from?
  2. Relations with countries abroad?
  3. Name for society?
  4. Documents of laws or rules?

Students will draft, organize, and present their ideal society to the class, with illustrations, charts, and other visual aides.

Students will compare and contrast each other’s ideal societies with the society the American Colonists wished for and built in the face of an oppressing British rule, critically connecting Locke’s ideas of natural rights in their description.


Broyles Jr., W., Zemeckis, R. Dir. (2000) Cast away. DreamWorks SKG Productions.

Queck, J. (2007). Quotes: Lord of the flies. Generation Terrorists. Retrieved October 20th,

2007 from ?

Resources. 2008. Center for Civic Education. 26 February 2008 <?>.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!

Non-profit Tax ID # 203478467