The following unit of study follows the Rise of Castro and a comparative study about the causes for the rise to power of authoritarian rulers. In terms of other dictators which arecovered in depth on ActiveHistory, you might like to consider the rule of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Mao, Mussolini or Pinochet.
This short presentation, which closes with a 5-minute video clip providing a recap on Castro's rise, sets up the unit by stressing the importance to students of measuring Castro on his own terms, and providing definitions of three criteria by which to do so.
This standalone interactive simulation, which takes 2-3 hours to complete thoroughly, provides students with essential information about Castro's rule and demands that they analyse various policies in terms of success and failure. It can be set as a self-study classroom exercise or as a homework activity as an essential prelude to the rest of the unit.
Each student should focus on a different policy area, and identify elements of success OR failure in preparation for a debate.. Students first consider how rulers measure their success in terms of economics, politics and so on. If you have IB Geography students willing to do so, ask them to come in and explain how they would measure progress for each of the following areas. These can then be used to help you target your research more effectively. A detailed list of Castro's main policies are provided to help students guide their research ready for the next stage.
In this stage, students work with the same student(s) that looked at the same policy, from the same perspective, as themselves. Together, they produce a joint presentation to the rest of the class designed to persuade them that in your policy area Castro was a success or a failure as appropriate. When the presentations are ready, the teacher will invite the two "economics" teams to present their opposing arguments. The rest of the class should take notes and then produce a concluding synthesis statement which draws together the best points from each presentation into a balanced judgement which both sides are happy to accept. Repeat for the other policies.
These detailed notes will provide useful material to help teachers support students with extra facts and opinions during the debate.
In this phase, students use their research to consider how they could use it to answer two possible questions:
Was Castro's use of propaganda more important than his use of force as a means of maintaining power?
How Authoritarian was Castro's Cuba?
To help students identify other possible questions relating to Castro's rule and to plan accordingly, they can be encouraged to use this tool.
Students can highlight different themes in different colours and highlight dates in red and use these to discuss the most common themes and perspectives focused on by the examiner.
A film which covers the main events of Castro's Rule.
Complete with teacher answers.
This tool provided a list of key terms relating to Castro's rule of Cuba and can be used to help students identify any obvious gaps in their analysis.
Model Essay: By what methods, and with what success, did Fidel Castro try to eliminate domestic opposition? (note: teacher password required).
A model essay by RJ Tarr of www.activehistory.co.uk.
The rule of Castro can then proceeded to be investigated in more depth as one of the comparative case studies for the ActiveHistory unit "Rule of 20th Century Dictators: Comparative Study Unit", based around the ActiveHistory Simulation “Which 20th Century Dictator are YOU?”, which comes complete with a detailed workpack and follow-up activities.