George Orwell’s 1984 offers a thought-provoking learning experience for secondary schools students. It provides challenging reading, stimulating themes of dehumanization, isolation, repression, loneliness, social class disparity, and abuse of power, and a basis upon which students can form their own opinions about today’s society. 1984’s relevance to today’s world makes it an excellent choice for secondary school readers who hold our future in their hands, whether as tomorrow’s leaders or as followers.
1984, written in 1948 and published in 1949, was intended as a warning against totalitarian tendencies rather than as a prophetic work. Now that the year 1984 has passed, many may scoff at the warning, but those who do would be wise to look at the present a bit more closely. Currently, we have subliminal messages, two-way televisions, computer viruses threatening to endanger our much depended-upon information systems (with possible global impact), and countries all over the world committing atrocities against their own people.
1984 depicts a dystopia, a world that went wrong, a world of manipulation and control which uses its people against themselves like pawns. We should also remember that the mindless citizens of Oceania are given neither the opportunity nor the encouragement to think or read. With a study of 1984, we have a chance for both.
This WebQuest will help you understand 1984 and Orwell’s intention when he wrote this novel. Using the themes and ideas from 1984, you should form your own opinion on today's society. Think of all the ways Orwell's book relates to things happening today.
The Task and Resources
In this WebQuest you will be working together with a group of students in and out of class. Each group will answer the questions. As a member of the group you will explore Webpages from people all over the world who care about the themes and ideas Orwell presented in 1984. Because these are real Webpages we're tapping into, not things made just for schools, the reading level might challenge you. Feel free to use online dictionaries or one in your classroom.
Online dictionaries: http://www.merriam-webster.com/
As a result, each group will create a PowerPoint presentation that summarizes essential information about Orwell’s work.
1) Keeping a Diary. Winston Smith keeps a diary, which in itself is a political act of rebellion. As you do this WebQuest keep a diary to exercise your privacy and freedom of expression and also to understand Winston's process of self-awakening. This task is individual. Each group member´s diaries should be handed out.
2) Understanding G Orwell’s background. Briefly explain, in your own words, what communism is and what the Soviet Union was. Research one of the key personalities in world communism: Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Joseph Stalin, Fidel Castro, Alexander Dubcek, Mikhail Gorbachev, Eric Honecker, Wojciech Jaruszelski, Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, or Pol Pot. Write a biographical sketch that includes how the life or ideas of this leader relate to 1984.
Visit the following pages to search for information:
3) Government. (a) Work with your team to answer the following questions: Who or what is government? What does—or what must—government do? What different kinds of governments are in the world today? How does government affect you personally?
(b) How would your perfect government be? How would it be divided? What should be your mottos? Punishments? Rules? Once you decide all these, make a poster. Highlight all the important points of your ideal government. Convince the rest of your classmates that your government is the only correct option (use striking words, pictures and anything you might need to persuade the class. Accompany your poster with a short speech.
(c) Brotherhood Cartoons. Create political cartoons that may have appeared in a secret publication of the Inner Party and “the Book”. Check contemporary political cartoons from newspapers and magazines and use them as models.
4) Brainstorm with your group any similarities and differences you can think of on your own. Don't be afraid to use the obvious. Organize your thoughts using a Venn diagram, concept map, or chart before researching the links below for further analysis. These sites will not cover everything - your brainstorming will add depth to your research. An example chart is illustrated below.
·Telescreens are everywherend work).
·Workplace monitoring—Winston can’t look at a note on his desk or dwell too long on a single document.
·Thought Police interpret people’s facial expressions and voice intonations.
·Spies—one never knows whom to trust.
· Streets surveillance cameras
· Corporations collecting data on consumers
· Internet privacy issues
· Employers monitoring employees’ e-mails, phone calls, or bathroom usage.
5) Fiction vs. Reality. Watch these videos. Two of them are about Argentina’s recent history, the other two are about 1984. Taking into account what you have already studied at school and read, and what you have seen, are there any similarities? Is it just coincidence? Was G Orwell right when he decided to write a novel to warn the world against totalitarism? For example, pay close attention to the euphemisms used to refer to the people who thought differently and were killed - “desaparecidos” and “vanished”/ "unperson".
6) Create a PowerPoint presentation to be handed in once you finished reading the novel. The PowerPoint should include a historical timeline, graphics of some sort, a compare/contrast chart of similarities and differences in the world of 1984 and the world today, a summary of your findings, point of view, characters, setting (include a map of the three superstates), themes and examples of irony/paradoxes. Your group will give a short oral presentation covering the topics that each person learned.
Your group will want to divide out the tasks . . . for example:
One person will be the project director responsible for the copy and overseeing the creation of the PowerPoint presentation.
One person will be the graphic designer who is responsible for locating graphics (gifs, jpgs, etc) that can be used in the PowerPoint presentation.
One person will be in charge of sound who is responsible for locating sounds and music that can be used in the PowerPoint presentation.
The same would go for the rest.
Teamwork is essential! Concentrate on accuracy, brevity, and clarity!
This is a team effort, and everyone in your group should contribute equally. At the end of the WebQuest, you will get together with your group and evaluate the contributions each made to the final products.
Word documents or manuscript papers (such as poster, cartoons, charts, etc.) - 25%
PowerPoint presentation and oral presentation - 50%
Group evaluation of individual contribution - 25% (This includes individual written work)
Hopefully, this project had enlightened you as to the similarities of our world today and the world of 1984. We have the opportunity and are even encouraged to read and think - but do we? 1984 presents an anti-utopian world without privacy, a world without the ability to read and think and speak a world of total government control. 1984 is a world of doublethink and Newspeak. Would you want to live in that world?