As an extension of their study of Animal Farm, as well as the accompanying history of Stalinist Russia and other totalitarian dictatorships of the 20th century, the 7th graders have entered a simulation of a totalitarian society under the leadership of Comrade Mike Boyer.
Students have been issued “Little Red Books” containing Comrade Boyer’s biography, poetry, quotations, and other rules. They are expected to commit this information to memory or risk demerits if they are questioned by the “Red Guard.” In addition to memorizing the contents of the Little Red Book, students must also perform the following actions:
- Recite a pledge to Comrade Boyer every morning during Announcements
- Stand to the side in the hallway and salute as Comrade Boyer passes by
- Stand at attention and salute if Comrade Boyer enters a classroom and remain so until Comrade Boyer orders them to stand at ease or until Comrade Boyer is no longer present
- Hang a portrait of Comrade Boyer in their lockers
- Carry their Little Red Books at all times during the school day except during P.E. class
- Wear their Red Kerchiefs around their necks at all times during the school day
These rules have been devised in a way that models the “cult of personality” that Stalin and other dictators cultivated during their regimes.
After the simulation, students will debrief the process and submit a reflection on the real-life pain that people suffer under totalitarianism and how dictatorships still exists and can continue to spread in the modern world. This experience is meant to immerse the students in a “cult of personality” and demonstrate the extreme nature of this form of government. Totalitarianism isn’t something that just belongs to the past, and allowing the students to study it will arm them with that knowledge so that maybe one day, it will be something relegated to the history books.