Rotten apple or …. How should we portray Dyer’s motivation in the Amritsar massacre?

This enquiry asks students to look critically at the depiction of the massacre in the film Gandhi as a way into trying to determine the motivation of Dyer.  Students are provided with an initial set of influence cards which they have to group and classify under headings of their choice.  These deliberately focus on a narrow range of possible reasons for his actions based largely on personality and his immediate experience.  Then a second wave of influence cards is introduced, looking more broadly at the problems of imperial rule, to encourage students to form a more nuanced view.  Finally, they are introduced to three schools of thought.  They have to decide which historian offers the most convincing explanation, in their view, before writing their own viewpoint.

Step 1

Start by explaining why the Amritsar massacre is seen as very important in the history of India and the British Empire.  Then vividly describe the events of the day using slides 2 and 3 to guide but not constrain you.  This gives enough background for pupils to start the enquiry.

Step 2

With slide 4 projected now show a short excerpt ( just 7 minutes long) of the Amritsar massacre from the

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