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Introductory Lessons to George Orwell's "1984" Part 1: You're Not the Boss of Me!

written by: Gillian Hendrie • edited by: Beth Taylor • updated: 2/14/2012

Help students think about the effects of extreme external controls being imposed upon someone, to set the scene for learning about Winston Smith’s life in "1984".

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    Context

    This lesson is mainly a discussion and sharing session, to be done before the students have begun reading "1984", if possible. It serves as an introduction to the concept of Big Brother, someone or something with power over our lives. Suitable for Grades 8 - 10.

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    Resources

    Only paper or students' notebooks required.

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    Lesson Plan

    1. WRITING: Students write a list of things they are planning to/would like to do this coming weekend.

    2. SPEAKING: A couple of students share what they have written. [Allow this to lead to short discussions.]

    3. DISCUSSION: Will your parents/guardians allow you to do everything on your list? If not, why not? What might they say? (e.g. “Be home by 10pm.") Why do you think they say these things?

    4. PAIRWORK:

    a) One student role-plays the other’s parent, finding an argument against each item on the list. (The funnier, the better!)

    b) Swap roles.

    c) A few students act out their role play for the class.

    (This may now lead naturally to a discussion about having power over someone else's life. Is it necessary to have a power structure in society? etc - depending on the class.)

    5. DISCUSSION:

    When do you expect your parents to stop "controlling your life"? Who has control over adults' lives?

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    Writing for Homework

    TASK: Imagine it's twenty years from now and you have children of your own. What kind of parent would you like to be? What would you worry about? Write a journal entry describing a typical day for you and your family.

    EXPECTED RESULTS: The journal entry should describe a day in the life of someone of about 35 years old. The relationship between the adult and the children should come through, mentioning worries that the adult has in relation to each child. They could also mention disputes they have had when a child wanted to do something that the adult did not allow, and how those were resolved. Other members of the household (such as a spouse) may also play a large part in the journal entry.

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    Next steps

    Part 2 goes on to consider the concept of being under observation 24 hours a day.

George Orwell's 1984

This is a series of lessons for teaching and discussing the concepts contained within Orwell's "1984". It includes introductory lessons for use before reading begins, some chapter specific ideas and activities, and essay topics. Intended for Grades 8 - 10.
  1. Introductory Lessons to George Orwell's "1984" Part 1: You're Not the Boss of Me!
  2. Introductory Lessons to Orwell's "1984" Part 2: Big Brother is Watching You!
  3. Introduce Critical Reading With a Lesson Plan on 1984 by George Orwell

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