Darth Vader from Star Wars fights Luke Skywalker with a light saber

This or That Debate (Chinese Literature)

Activity Aim: To understand the differences between three major philosophical schools in ancient China and their relationships with political issues of the time.

Material needed: Pen, paper, whiteboard

Activity time: 25-30 minutes

Activity description: This activity will be done toward the end of a class session introducing the main ideas of the philosophical schools.

  • Divide the 24 students in three groups of 8. This could be done voluntarily, with students choosing to advocate one of the three, or assigned by the instructor.
  • Each group will be the officials/ministers advocating one philosophical school and their goal is to persuade the king (instructor) into adopting their theory.
  • Give them 10 minutes to discuss within their groups the advantages of their own and the weaknesses of their rival groups, citing evidence from the reading material. Ask one student to take note.
  • Each group picks a representative to present to the instructor.
  • Students take turns defending their own school.
  • The instructor writes down main points of the debates on the whiteboard.

This activity was developed by Qiulei Hu as part of the Baruch College Center for Teaching and Learning Summer Seminar on Active Learning.

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