Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Debating the Cancellation of the Arrow
Have students brainstorm the structure of an effective debate. Then ask them how they would establish a debate on the issue of the appropriateness of the Diefenbaker government's cancellation of the Avro Arrow project in 1959. Students should consider what background facts and information they would need to know about the decision in order to prepare and conduct a debate on the issue.
Outline the Opportunity
Have students browse the topic The Avro Arrow: Canada's Broken Dream on the CBC Digital
Archives website for as much time as they need. They
should focus on the clips that provide background information on the decision
to cancel the Avro Arrow project, the arguments both for and against the
action, the major figures involved on each side, and the immediate results and
long-term effects of the cancellation.
Divide the class into groups. Each group will gather information about one of the major figures in the clips (for example, John Diefenbaker, Crawford Gordon, George Pearkes, Lester B. Pearson, Hazen Argue, Robert Lindley, Fred Smye, Pierre Sevigny, Peter Cope, Jim Floyd, and Jim Chamberlain), and the position of that person on the cancellation of the Arrow project.
Revisit and Reflect
Review students' criteria for an
effective debate. Explain that they will use the information they have gathered
to hold a debate, in role, about the cancellation of the Arrow project. Have
students debate the resolution: Be it resolved that the Diefenbaker government
was right to cancel the Avro Arrow project.
Following the debate, ask students what they have learned from their research and the debate, and why they think this debate is important in Canadian history. They should evaluate the short-term results and long-term consequences of the Arrow's cancellation, and consider the factors that contribute to government policy decisions and the impact of those decisions on people's lives.
Ask students to write a summary statement giving their own view about the decision made by the Diefenbaker government.
Students can investigate a current government policy decision, whether municipal, provincial, or federal. They should examine and list the pros and cons of the policy, and infer and describe the future consequences of the government's actions.