Exploring Diversity with History (9-12)

Diversity Beans - Exploring Diversity with History Lesson Plan (Grades 9-12)

Objective: Use history to discuss concept of diversity.

Materials Required: 1.5 oz of Diversity Beans per student, reference material on the Second World War.


A. Divide the class into 6 groups and assign each group one of the major powers of WWII (US, England, Russia, Germany, Japan, Italy). Assign each group a color and flavor of Diversity Bean.

B. Have the groups research their assigned power, including society, government, national strategy, alliances, etc.

C. Have the students list on the board the characteristics of their power, include the characteristics of the people.

D. Discuss with the class the nationalistic drive of Germany and Japan and their efforts to purify their races. Discuss the nationalistic tendencies of Italy and Russia and compare them to Germany and Japan. Discuss why England and the US did not have the same level of desire to purify their races.

E. Discuss with the class the government's role and people's role in each country.

F. Ask the class what their family backgrounds are. See if anyone has any German, Japanese, Russian, English and/or Italian heritage in their background.

G. Discuss with the class whether their heritage reflects upon them as a person.

H. Have the students taste a Diversity Bean of their assigned group. Ask what flavors the students tasted and record the results on the board.
I. Discuss the results with the class, ask if the flavors tasted could be related to heritage.

J. Ask the students what their new expectations are for the beans.

K. Have the students taste another Diversity Bean and record the results. See if anybody's expectations are changed. Repeat until there are no defined expectations.

L. Discuss with the students the relationship between appearance and expectations.

M. Ask the students to define stereotyping. Discuss whether judging the beans on their color is a form of stereotyping.

N. Return to the discussion of the countries involved in WWII. Ask the students how they feel about the characteristics of the people in the countries studied.

O. Discuss with the students if our perceptions of the countries (especially the axis powers) was driven by the actions and attitudes of a few people and their governments or if our perceptions were truly indicative of the people and their culture.

P. Discuss the subsequent actions and attitudes of the countries involved in WWII. Discuss how Russia became a Dictatorship with excessive human rights violations and how Germany, Japan and Italy became productive members of the world society.

Q. Ask the students if they know anyone who has a pedigree heritage (ie 100% Irish or Italian, etc). Discuss how in the world there are few people that are not of mixed heritage.

R. Discuss with the students if heritage determines personality or behavior. Ask the class if all people of German, Italian or Japanese heritage should be judged on their background. Expand the discussion to include people of African and American Indian heritage and other heritage.

S. Have the students select a Diversity Bean of their choice. Ask them why they chose the specific bean. Ask them what their expectation is and why they have an expectation.

T. Have the students taste their beans. Ask whose expectations were met. Ask who was unhappy with their choice and why.

U. Relate this to people. Discuss with the class the fact that people tend to judge others on appearance or background and we develop expectations based on our judgments. Discuss that our judgment is often wrong and based on stereotypes.

V. Discuss with the class how the beans relate to people. Just like the beans, we shouldn't judge people based on appearance. We need to experience people and judge them based on attitudes, behaviors and actions.