History & Memory Lesson 1: Collective Memory

Introduction
07122012_EDU_hm_jackiesource_main.jpg
Archival material collected by Andy Warhol, photograph depicting Jacqueline Kennedy at her husband’s funeral

This lesson includes discussion, reading and writing to introduce the concept of collective memory in a culture or group.  

Suggested Time Frame:

Introduction: 10 minutes
Student Writing Time: 20-40 minutes
Discussion: 30 minutes

Total time: 1-2 class periods  

Objectives:

  • Students will describe and discuss collective memory
  • Students will be able to explain the effects of collective memory through national holiday celebrations
  • Students will differentiate between how events actually happen and how they are remembered
  • Students will explore personal memory to retell specific events
  • Students will identify attributes of events that define their generation
  • Students will analyze the impact of collective memory on culture
 
Procedure
The World Trade Center towers shortly after the first plane hit on September 11, 2001
The World Trade Center towers shortly after the first plane hit on September 11, 2001

Materials:

The following handouts are
included in the Lesson PDF

Collective Memory Handout PencilsProjector
Photograph of Hurricane Katrina racing towards the Louisiana and Mississippi coastlines of the U.S. in October 2005. Photo courtesy of NASA
Photograph of Hurricane Katrina racing towards the Louisiana and Mississippi coastlines of the U.S. in October 2005. Photo courtesy of NASA

Flashbulb Memory Activity

  1. Use the Collective Memory Handout to introduce and discuss a definition for collective memory.
  2. Discuss the questions on the handout together in class.
  3. Write the following question posed by historian David Thelan on the blackboard:
  4.  

    What do and should Americans remember from the nation’s past as the defining experiences that shape our present?

    David Thelan, Memory and American History, 1989.  
  5. Using the example of Thanksgiving or another national holiday, discuss the difference between what we do remember and what we should remember.
  6. Use the Flashbulb Memory Activity as homework for your students.
  7. Review the students’ homework.
  8. Brainstorm and list your ideas of what criteria must be met to make a “defining event.”
  9. Use the following questions to guide the creation of the criteria list:
  10. - When the event occurred, did it impact culture and/or people's lives?

    - Does it impact peoples’ lives still?

    - Does the event teach powerful lessons?

    - Does it shape future actions?

    - How does it reflect national values?

  11. Discuss and create a class “Top Five” list of defining events for your students’ generation.
  12. Choose one defining event to discuss. Imagine 40 years into the future. Have students speculate what will be remembered about this defining event. What will be forgotten? What should be remembered, but perhaps won’t be? How will this event impact culture?
 
Assessment

Warhol Education Rubrics

Click the Warhol Rubric headers below to reveal associated rubrics to which this lesson applies.

Critical Thinking
Communication
Historical Context