Lesson: The Jungle II: Collectivism

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Lesson Objective

Students will understand conditions during the Industrial Revolution and the relation of "The Jungle" and labor unions to collectivist philosophy.

Lesson Plan


Class set of both graphic novels

Attached Vocabulary Notebook

Attached Jungle Question Packet

(If using only one copy of novels for the whole class, you will need a document camera to project the text.)

Computer with internet access



Social Studies 12.10 Students formulate questions about and defend their analyses of tensions within our constitutional democracy and the importance of maintaining a balance between the following concepts: majority rule and individual rights; liberty and equality; state and national authority in a federal system; civil disobedience and the rule of law; freedom of the press and the right to a fair trial; the relationship of religion and government.

English Language Arts 11-12LA3.9 Analyze the philosophical arguments presented in literary works to determine whether the authors’ positions have contributed to the quality of each work and the credibility of the characters. (Philosophical approach)


Anticipatory Set:

Introduce Utah Phillips as an important singer and storyteller who sings the songs and tells the stories of workers who have unionized and fought for rights. Explain what the IWW is, and play this video. BUT- you need to go slow and pause every couple of seconds. You will have to watch it a couple times and spell out some of the parts for students, but this is a funny and energetic video, and his words make clear the agenda of unionized socialists.


You can follow this with some more musical videos:





Discuss how this kind of thinking might be applied to Jurgis’s situation in Chicago.



Guide students through learning the final vocabulary words.  


Guided Practice:

Review the vocabulary that has been introduced. Choose ten words that have been taught and, at random, draw illustrations of them and ask students to call out the word. If they don’t get it right away, supply a non-example or example.


Input (again):

With students, open to pages 36 & 37, then 44 & 45. Carefully go over each statement in these pages. You will need to help students parse the fight for dignity from the desire to care nothing about others. It helps to point out that, in this scenario, it is the business owners (capitalists) who care nothing for others. When the book talks of “fighting back,” it is talking of sticking together. It is important to stress that unions take the stand that noone will accept a better life unless it is better for everyone. They are collectivist, even though the motivations of the members, like Jurgis, are rooted in individual experiences.


Guided Practice (again):

Look at the tally of Jurgis’ misfortunes. Discuss the causes of each. When individual fault is searched for, students will find that each person is attempting to act in their own best interest, and they do this by profiting from the misfortune of others. Discuss the concept of systematic influence on people’s behavior. In other words, what are the unspoken “rules” of the system in Chicago. Will a person be able to succeed in this system by protecting and caring about others? Can students make connections to modern day experiences?




Frame the mindset of collectivism by playing this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rT_-Ln7eWpw&feature=related


Ask students to reflect for a quiet moment on what would happen if everyone acted in the best interest of their community instead of themselves.  Ask them to write on some scratch paper any pros or cons they think of. A prompt to help is asking what will happen to someone who wants to move away and live by themselves? What will happen to someone who wants to do art instead of helping to work or grow food? Allow time for ideas to sink in. If discussion stalls, point out that  it would not be acceptable to try to put someone else out of business if you were making or selling the same thing. Everyone would have to have the same education and chances for jobs. Allow students to speculate reasonably about how this would turn out.


Lesson Resources



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