Document Based Lesson – Nicaraguan Literacy

For my Document Based Lesson, I will be having students examine the overt, then more subtle, ways the Nicaraguan Literacy Crusade of 1980 was turned from an act of education to an act of politics.  The intent of this is to have students identify the ways language, visuals, and curriculum content are used to communicate political messages.  Students will also have to examine documents to become familiar with what the Nicaraguan government’s political position was, so that they can identify political messages when they see them, a process that will involve documents that should specifically help students formulate questions about the underlying political nature of education itself.

This lesson is intended for 12th Grade Students enrolled in a Modern World History course with an emphasis in exploring less commonly discussed historical stories or events.  It is similar in function to a World History course I took myself as a Senior, and is intended to push students towards reflecting on the role education has played in their own lives.  This ties directly to the Essential Question, “How is Education shaped by and used to shape society?“, which hopefully ties to the student reality by discussing a large portion of their life up to that point, the education process.  img_3803

The lesson will begin with students analyzing images of militarized literacy instructors to identify defining visual characteristics, to introduce students to the process of looking at images to identify relevant visual details, then backtrack to an examination of a field report on Nicaragua.  This will serve to introduce background information on the Nicaraguan nation, it’s Sandinista government, and the Literacy Crusade, but this will be done via a primary source report and students will be posed sourcing questions to examine it.  Students will then examine selected excerpts from Nicaraguan leaders to determine their position on politics in education, close reading the arguments, and discuss what they think of the document’s veracity and the author’s opinion.

Next, students will examine selections from the instructional workbook used during the crusade, quotes from instructors, propaganda songs with accompanying translated lyrics, and still images of Crusade images and source/close read to determine how they communicate political messages.  Finally, to end the unit, students will review the first image and note political aspects they might have missed the first time, then re-review an excerpt from a Nicaraguan leader on education, and discuss how it relates to their own time in school.

Google Site

Scott Hearron

Ministerio De Educación. “Mejorar La Calidad De La Aflabetización!” La Cruzada En Marcha (Managua), July 14, 1980, 12th ed.


One Reply to “Document Based Lesson – Nicaraguan Literacy”

  1. “How is Education shaped by and used to shape society?” A great essential question!

    Not only can students explore in the Nicaraguan context, but also in their own experience in school. Great preparation for a lifetime of having to critically evaluate the information we are surrounded by. Especially important for younger generation who are “awash in a sea of text without context.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.