SMART TASK: Was the Weimar Republic doomed from the start? A glass half empty?

The lesson starts with a glass of water which you have filled to roughly half way.

Students have to say whether they would describe the bottle as half full or half-empty. Use this to introduce the notion of historians who take the optimistic and pessimistic points of view

Now divide the class: Half are optimists, half are pessimists. Pair one optimist with a pessimist.  It is probably a good idea to have students of similar ability paired off.

Now ask them to brainstorm the ideas they think would be used by both sides, one advancing the optimistic view, the other the pessimistic view.  This can be done on a simple slip of paper.  It is designed to stimulate thought and recall and will not need to be retained.

When pairs have exhausted all their ideas, briefly collect their ideas on the board but don’t pass detailed comment on them.  That will come later.

Now issue the set of cards provided as Resource sheet 1. Ask the students to decide whether the information on the cards supports an optimistic or a pessimistic point of view.  (You may want to add some of your own, or reduce the number used with

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