CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Defining Censorship

Visual Arts, English Language Arts
1 lesson
To use organizing features of text to understand an issue.
In this introductory activity, students will browse the site to gain an initial understanding about censoring art.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring


Ask students to write the word "censorship" in the centre of a page. Around it, they should write a definition of the word, examples to illustrate the term, and synonyms for it. They may choose to use a dictionary and thesaurus to add to their organizer. Take up their responses before continuing.

Have students repeat the activity for the term "art."

Then ask: What are the ramifications when we combine these words to discuss art and censorship together? How are the ramifications different for artists and for viewers?

Outline the Opportunity

Have students visit the Artists Busted: Censorship in Canada topic on the CBC Digital Archives website. Ask them to scan the titles, index, visuals, frames, sub-titles, and references for 15 minutes, observing how the site is structured. In their notebooks, students should explain how the site is organized (for example topically, conceptually, or chronologically), then list examples of censored art and the date on which each occurred.

Depending on the age, experience, or ability of your students, reduce or increase the time for exploration.

Revisit and Reflect

Have students share their observations about the site. Note its chronological organization, beginning in 1965. Ask students if the debate has changed much since 1965, and, if so, how.

List on the board or on chart paper any questions that students would like to explore further about the topic.


Ask students to record in their journal their reflections about the issue of censoring art, including any questions they have. Have they ever read or seen anything they thought should be censored, or thought that something censored should not have been? Note that the clip titled "Cops ban 'lewd' drawings" takes a satirical look at censorship, and ask students to reflect on the advantages and disadvantages of using humour to address this issue.

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