Student Activities

The Eisenhower Years: Conflict and Resolution

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Grade Level:
High School: Ninth Grade through Twelfth Grade
Social Studies
State Standards:
PA Education Standards:
Career Education: Career Retention and Advancement 13.3.8, 13.3.11
Civics and Government: Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship 5.2.9, 5.2.12


As a soldier and as a President, Dwight D. Eisenhower played a seminal role in many of the conflicts of the Twentieth Century. This teaching package introduces students to this great American, but also challenges students to use their study of Eisenhower to explore how conflicts are caused - and how they can be solved.

1.     Write the word "conflict" on the board. Ask students to define it. Say to students, "There are many types of conflicts in the world today. Let's think of all the different types of conflict we can." [Examples include: international, national, community, interpersonal, etc] Ask students to define each type of conflict. Also ask them to think of specific examples of each type of conflict occurring in the world now [i.e. Civil War, gang warfare, a disagreement between two people, etc]

2.     Say, "Many of the things that cause conflicts between nations or groups of people also cause conflict between individuals." The following role play will help students understand some of the causes of conflict:

Jason and Antonio used to be close friends. But this year, Antonio is doing well in school, while Jason has seemed to lose interest. While Antonio generally is prepared for class, Jason talks back to teachers and falls behind. Jason also has a new group of friends – a crowd Antonio doesn't like. Jason says mean things about Antonio behind his back and harasses him in the gym and in the halls.

Today, Jason said, "You think you're smart. Fight me and prove it." Antonio thinks fighting is wrong, and he also knows that it could get him suspended from school and grounded at home. On the other hand, he worries that if he doesn't stand up to Jason, he'll become an easy target. In the hall, Jason and his girlfriend Elena meet Antonio and his girlfriend Sara. Role play their conversation. 

·          Ask four students to volunteer to play the roles of Jason, Antonio, Elena, and Sara. (If any of these names corresponds to the name of a student in your class, choose another name). Make it clear to all students that no actor is playing himself or herself. Say, "They are acting. 

Tell the audience to watch and listen closely. After the role play, they're going to have to talk about what they saw. Also remind them once again that the students aren't playing themselves.

3.     Have students act out the argument among the four teens. Afterwards, ask these questions:

·        Conflicts have both immediate causes and root causes (things that have occurred in the past). What is the immediate cause of Jason and Antonio's conflict from Jason's point of view? What are some of the root causes? What is the immediate cause of the conflict from Antonio's point of view? What are some of the root causes?

·        Conflicts can be resolved in many ways. One way to resolve conflicts peacefully is through mediation. A student mediator gets the people who are in conflict to talk about the problem and see if they can come up with a solution. Ask for a volunteer to be the mediator.

 4.  Pass out Handout #1, Mediation. (You may also wish to make an overhead of this handout.) Lead a discussion with students to make sure they understand each of the steps involved in mediation. Talking points for the teacher are listed below: 

Step 1: Set the Ground Rules
The mediator explains that each person will have a chance to talk and tell their side of the story. The rules are:

·        No interrupting

·        No name calling or put-downs

·        Be honest

·        Work hard to solve the problem

Step 2: Define the Problem
Ask each person to tell what happened. Then the mediator should restate and summarize the story. Finally, the mediator should ask, "How did that make you feel?" and restate what the person says.

 Step 3: Find Solutions
The mediator should identify the issues to be solved. Then the mediator may ask each person, "Can you think of any solution to this problem?" Or, the mediator can ask both parties tobrainstorm for 2 minutes. Remind students that when they are brainstorming, they should throw out any idea that occurs to them. Say, "Brainstorming is not the time when we criticize other people's ideas – we're trying to come up with as many answers as possible. Later, we'll do some evaluating." Once the list is developed, the mediator asks, "Which of these solutions could you agree with?"

 Step 4: Final Agreement
The mediator restates the final solution. Tell students this solution should be a 4WH solution: it should say Who, What, When, Where and How. The mediator should ask each person what he or she can do to keep the problem from happening again. Then the mediator should congratulate both sides on reaching a solution.

5.     Now have the students and the mediator role play a mediation to this conflict. Give the students Handout #2: Acting as a Mediator. Discuss the steps that mediators should follow when trying to find a resolution to a conflict.

6.     Say, "Finding an agreement to conflict is not easy. Many of the same things that cause conflict between people also cause conflict between nations. In Lesson 2, we are going to read a selection by former President Jimmy Carter about the history of war. Then we are going to discuss his analysis of the causes of war. You will see many similarities between the causes of conflict that we have just identified and the causes of conflict that former President Carter identifies in this essay."

7.     Pass out a copy of Handout #3, "Making War: Centuries of Conflict," and assign students to read it before the next class period. (Note: some groups might need to read this assignment in class.) Ask them to consider the following questions as they read: What is the reason that conflict occurs? What are some ways of resolving conflicts? Do you think war is ever justified? What makes a war a "just" war? How has war changed in the 20th century? What led to the development of the cold war?







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Last updated: July 21, 2015