Teacher's Guide: Age of Hope

At the beginning of the twentieth century, record numbers of people emigrate to America, leisure time becomes part of many cultures, electricity is introduced to the general public, and citizens around the world begin to unite for suffrage and political independence.

Unit Themes and Topics:
economic change
human rights
political change
rise of the masses and a global society
social change
technological change
values and popular culture

Connections Across History
connection: when: where: program:
social, technological, political, and economic changes 1980-1996 Bosnia, China, India, Russia, United States "Fast Forward"

Stanislava Kraskovskaya
(citizen, Caucasus)

"In my century, we've had electricity, trains, cars, right up to astronauts. This is all my century. It's been fascinating! I am very pleased with my century."
photographic portrait of Stanislava Kraskovskaya


Before Watching

1. Based on Stanislava Kraskovskaya's quotation, what kinds of changes do you think she thought were the most important in the twentieth century? Why? In what other ways has the world changed since 1900? How have these changes affected your life?

2. Divide the class into two groups. As students watch, have one group look for examples of social change and the other group look for examples of technological change.

After Watching

1. How has the twentieth century been different from previous centuries? Consider the role of ordinary people, politics, technology, economics, war, and popular culture.

2. How did technological change create social change at the turn of the century? How do you think social change contributed to technological change? What were people's attitudes toward new technology? Do you think attitudes toward technology today are different or the same? Explain.


Have students work in small groups to research one aspect of the development and widespread use of electric power, such as inventions, the role of government, the public response, and its earliest uses. Using their research, have each group create a mock interview with someone whose life was changed by the advent of electricity. After groups present their work, discuss similar aspects of more recent inventions.

Divide students into groups to create a Tree of the Future diagram. Have each group identify one important event or trend that they think may permanently change people's lives‹such as widespread access to the Internet or global warming‹and write the event or trend in the "trunk" of their tree diagram. Then have them brainstorm a list of potential consequences and write each primary consequence on "branches" and each second- and third-level consequence on "twigs" and "leaves." Then have students write a brief essay explaining how the changes they predicted will influence people's moods, hopes, and fears.

Seek a Better Life

The following lesson focuses on the program segment about changes brought by immigration, prosperity, and movements for social and political change. Europeans and Americans describe their experiences.

Program Segment
approximately 24 minutes

Europeans wave goodbye from a ship sailing to America.

The end of the program


Before Watching

1. How have immigration, economic prosperity, and social activism influenced American life today? How are different groups in the population affected by these three factors?

2. As students watch the program segment, have them look for examples of how ordinary people's lives changed at the turn of the century.

After Watching

1. Why do you think this program is called "Age of Hope"? At the turn of the century, what gave people hope for a better future? Do you think their hopes were realized? Why or why not?

2. What factors were changing people's lives at the turn of the century? Do you think people's lives today are better than people's lives were one hundred years ago? Why or why not?

3. How did people's perception of their individual power change? What inspired this change? What were the consequences of this change? How do these consequences affect politics in different countries today?


Ask students to imagine that they have lived through most of the twenty-first century and a historian wants to interview them about their experiences. First, brainstorm a list of social and technological innovations that might occur during the twenty-first century. Then have students write a fictional interview describing how those changes affected the mood, hopes, and fears of people during that century.

Have students research a current trend in immigration, the economy, or social activism. Then have them create a timeline of the history of the trend, including policies and public opinion. Post and compare the results in a class discussion.

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