Beacon Lesson Plan Library

To Express or Be Oppressed?

Thomas Lucey


Students explore the debate between free-speech and patriotism using a northern renaissance scenario.


The student knows ways major historical developments have influenced selected groups over time (for example, the rise and spread of the Muslim religion).


--Ordeal of the Artist- handout (see Associated File)
- Easel pad to note student responses.


1. Download the -Ordeal of the Artist- handout from the Associated file and make enough copies for each student to have one.
2 Have the easel pad in a central location which is visible to all students..


1. Explain how the Renaissance was a “rebirth” of new thoughts and ideas in Europe brought about by contact with other world cultures.

2. Describe the conflict between freedom of speech/expression and patriotism to the throne in the Northern Renaissance. Explain how these circumstances of the Northern Renaissance subjected artists to the observation of royalty and even the pope.

3. Instruct the class to count off by 4’s and break up into their groups.

4. Provide the -Ordeal of the Artist- handout (see Assoc. file) to each student and have each group find solutions to the questions.

5. After 15 minutes of discussion, ask the groups to discuss their solutions with the class. Record their responses on the easel pad.

6. Ask the class the following questions for discussion, writing their responses on the easel pad:
- How would you respond if you were told to refrain from your values for the good of the country?

- Based on this exercise, how do you think life would be different if we didn’t have a legal system to protect our right to free speech?

7. At the end of class, collect the -Ordeal of the Artist- handouts from students to use in assessment (see Assessment)

NOTE: This lesson also applies to the following Tennessee standards:

Social Studies
Curriculum Standards
Approved by the Tennessee State Board of Education
August 31, 2001

Standards and Learning Expectations

Content Standard: 1.0

Culture encompasses similarities and differences among people including their beliefs, knowledge, changes, values, and traditions. Students will explore these elements of society to develop an appreciation and respect for the variety of human cultures.
1.04 Recognize how cultural and individual perceptions affect places and regions.

1.05 Understand the role that diverse cultures and historical experiences had on the development of the world.


At the end of class, collect each student's Ordeal of the Artist handout. Use the class discussion and the collected handouts to formatively assess the students' understanding of the impact of the conflict between free speech and patriotism on artists during the Northern Renaissance.

Attached Files

Ordeal of the Artist Handout     File Extension: pdf

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