Photo of a shadow play reflection

A Shadow Play: The Origins of Dictatorship Students in grades 9 to 12 will use the Indonesian art of shadow play to dramatize the rise and fall of General Suharto.

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Photo of smiling Indonesians

In the Light of Day: Reconciliation after a Dictatorship Students in grades 9 to 12 will learn how various societies have coped with emerging from despotic rule and construct a proposed solution for Indonesia.

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This online Education section accompanies the program SHADOW PLAY and is designed for high-school social studies and government teachers working with 9th to 12th grade students. These pages consist of two lesson plans with learning extensions, assessment recommendations, and related Web sites. Downloadable PowerPoint presentations extend the classroom activities, as do reproducibles, and activity extensions at the end of each lesson.

SHADOW PLAY reports on the events of September 30, 1965, when six of Indonesia's most senior generals were dragged from their beds and brutally murdered. The shocking murders set in motion a national power struggle that would lead to the overthrow of President Sukarno by General Suharto, initiating a bloody reign of terror in which up to a million Indonesians would be killed. By viewing the film and participating in its accompanying learning activities, students make critical determinations about:
  • the accepted version of the story of Suharto's rise to power.

  • the conditions that lead to the establishment of his dictatorship.

  • the parallels that may exist between the West's struggles against Communism in the past and its current struggle against terrorism.

  • the decisions that are made in the creation of truth commissions, and how those decisions might be made to meet Indonesia's particular needs.

  • the vocabulary associated with legal and political efforts at reconciliation such as "amnesty" or "mandate."

Lesson 1: A Shadow Play: The Origins of Dictatorship
Lesson 2: In the Light of Day: Reconciliation after a Dictatorship

About the Author

James McGrath Morris is a member of the social studies department of West Springfield High School, Springfield, Virginia and serves on the PBS TeacherSource Advisory Group. He joined Fairfax County Public Schools in 1996 after a career in journalism and publishing. During his first year of teaching Morris was nominated for the Sallie Mae First Class Teacher Award. As an author or editor, Morris has published four books. He is currently at work on a biography of a turn-of-the-century New York journalist to be published by Fordham University Press.

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