Finding the Shades of Gray between Victims and Villains in War

Katherine Willenbrock, Special Education teacher, Morgan School

(Unit PDF)         


I created this curriculum unit to motivate students to learn about history and to improve the reading comprehension and critical thinking skills of my students. In this unit, students will hear stories, like their own, where youth have no control over the circumstances that lead them to conflict, but they survive and make a better life for themselves.

As students analyze the shades of gray found between victims and villains, they will learn to be empathetic and less judgmental of those involved in war. Students will learn to see a conflict from multiple perspectives, and gain an understanding of how all sides view their perspective as justified.

Students will discover four main categories of child soldiers: Volunteers, recruits, draftees, and those forced. Students will participate in class discussions as we examine the complex nature of these children and their guilt or innocence after the wars have ended. Students will look at the challenges faced by youth as they attempt to re-enter society. In this unit, we will also examine the similar ways in which youth get involved in gangs. At the end of the unit, students will create a multimedia project. This project will be an original student created outlook on child soldiers.