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  • Lesson plan
  • Grades 9-10

Before and After: Asking Questions about Going to War


American middle and secondary students typically study a dozen or more wars, from ancient Greek and Roman military campaigns to the armed conflicts that shaped modern Europe and the United States. Despite these opportunities, few are asked to examine the decision-making process behind the choice to wage war. This lesson fills that gap.

Using clips from the documentary film Nowhere to Hide, which provides a portrait of civilian life in a volatile Iraqi province following the U.S. troop withdrawal in 2011, the lesson asks students to consider the questions they want their political representatives to ask before authorizing military action. As they think about their roles as citizens who elect representatives with the power to authorize force under the War Powers Act, they'll also look at concepts that permeated news coverage of the Iraq War, including "nation building" and "preemptive war," as well as "pacifism."

About the authors

Faith Rogow

Faith Rogow, Ph.D., is the co-author of The Teacher's Guide to Media Literacy: Critical Thinking in a Multimedia World (Corwin, 2012) and past president of the National Association for Media Literacy Education. She has written discussion guides and lesson plans for more than 250 independent films.