30 April 2011

Absolute Corruption & Infographics

I put it up to an Edmodo vote, and students chose a crazy dictators unit over relationships, pop music, and visual arts. And so:

Essential question
Does absolute power corrupt absolutely?

I think we will start out with the list I found of world dictators (pared down by Spanish-speaking countries by yours truly). Students will pick 10-20 of the 56 on the list and create an infographic based on a little research.

I am intrigued by infographics and their power to present information attractively and concisely. I believe they are essential for 21st century information analysis. Sure, they're basically fancy graphs, but the ability to assimilate multiple facets of one problem I think would blow even Bloom's mind.

Once again, the research is likely to be conducted in English; maybe I'll be a purist next year. But I want students to have a background and a little self-determination before we dive into some authentic texts (yet to be determined) and the effect of power.

Perhaps we'll do some plátizas or forum posts on the meaning of "poder" and "corrupcion" so students can decide what sort of information to present in their infographics. Some suggestions (besides country of origin, which all should include):

  • years in power (number, chronology, or both!)
  • number of people killed/tortured/disappeared during their reign
  • personal frivolities, USD$ spent thereon
  • tactics for maintaining power
  • methods of takeover
  • types of power abuse
  • external supporters (U.S. government anybody?)
  • crazy quotes (I'm looking at you, Hugo Chavez)
  • methods of removal, or how their reigns ended
  • forms of opposition (would love to work Las Madres y Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo in)
  • weaknesses (I'm still amused by Junot Diaz's summary of Trujillo's reign as a cu**cracy)
  • international disputes (one Paraguayan leader got 90% of the adult male population of his country killed, including himself, trying to invade Brazil!)
  • military experience
  • facial hair (why not?)
  • racial background (just to see)
  • educational levels
  • children (numbers, names, illegitimate/legitimate)
  • previous jobs
Students will be able to choose from the lists by countries and somewhat chronologically, as I believe they're all still in order, if not dated. I think I'll have each student create an infographic with at least 3 of the above facets (or others, if they can think of better ones) plus country of origin. I envision maps, pictographs, and scatterplots.

And from there, students will begin to decide if absolute power does, in fact, corrupt absolutely.

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