Students trace Cuba’s history from the country’s precolonial past to its most recent economic, social, and political changes. Students re-create the discussions Cubans on the island are having about their country’s future.
- Analyze recent photographs of Cuba.
- Formulate ideas about Cuban life and society today.
- Consider the benefits and limitations of using photographs as a source for learning about Cuba.
Note: Students may find it useful to have read Part III of the History, Revolution, and Reform: New Directions for Cuba student text and completed the “Study Guide—Part III” (TRB 32-33) or the “Advanced Study Guide—Part III” (TRB-34). Alternatively, this lesson could be used on its own or as an introduction to studying Cuba, in which case no prior reading would be required.
In the Classroom
1. Reviewing the Reading
Begin class by briefly reviewing with students what they know about Cuba. Prompt students to recount what they know about Cuba’s people, history, and economy. Ask students to each write one question about what they want to learn about Cuba.
2. Exploring Cuba
Divide the class into small groups and distribute the handout. Direct students to the PowerPoint or show the images to the class. Assign each group four photos and instruct students to examine each image closely and answer the questions on the handout. Alternatively, have students choose their own photos to analyze.
Note: Teachers should point out that it is important to be careful about drawing conclusions from photographs. Remind students that they cannot be certain that a photo is an accurate or complete reflection of reality. While photos can provide clues about societies and how people live, students should be aware that photos, like written documents, show a small piece of a bigger picture.
3. Presentations and Class Discussion
After the small groups complete the questions, have everyone come together in a large group. Ask students to display their photos to the class and share their observations.
After students present their findings, have students reflect on what they learned from the photos. Did any of the photos change students’ ideas or assumptions about Cuba? Have the photographs raised any new questions about Cuba? Where do students think they might find answers to these questions? What are the benefits of using photographs as a resource for learning about other countries and societies?
What are the limitations of using photographs as a source for learning about Cuba? How might photos present a selective or misleading portrait of the subject matter? Do students think it is important to consider the point of view of the photographer when analyzing photos? Did the photographer have a purpose in taking these photographs?
Photo credit: escalepade (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) on Flickr