CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Trudeaumania and Charisma

History, Media Studies, Political Science
1 to 2 lessons
To analyze media to gain a deeper understanding of culturally significant terms
Students define these terms and explain and apply them in relationship to the political careers of Pierre Trudeau and other Canadian or world leaders.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Have students consult a dictionary to find the meaning of the terms "charisma," and "Trudeaumania" (Note: a Canadian dictionary will be required to find the definition for the latter term). Students should then formulate definitions of these two terms using their own words.


Outline the Opportunity


Divide the class into groups of two students each in order to view as many of the video and audio clips as possible in the topic Trudeaumania: A Swinger for a Prime Minister on the CBC Digital Archives website. (If you wish, set a time limit appropriate to your students and your classroom structure.)

One student in each group should focus on the term "charisma" and the other on "Trudeaumania." Have the students browse the site, in any order they wish. Each student should focus on his or her term, and each should list as many examples as possible.  Students should state why they think the examples they have chosen are applicable to the term they are researching.


Revisit and Reflect


Have all the students who focused on the term "charisma" meet as one group and all those who focused on the term "Trudeaumania" meet as a second group. Ask each of these groups to formulate a complete list of specific examples of its term and to provide a detailed explanation of the term and how it applies to Pierre Trudeau and his impact on Canadian political life during the 1960s and beyond. The following questions may be used to assist students in focusing their inquiry:


1. In what ways could Pierre Trudeau be considered to possess political charisma?

2. When did "Trudeaumania" begin? When did it reach its highest point among the Canadian public? When did it end?

3. In what ways was Trudeau a figure of his time?

4. Does charisma in a politician change over time (for example, would a political figure of the early 21st century have a different kind of charisma from that of Trudeau)?

5. Are there certain qualities that any politician must possess in order to be considered charismatic, or is charisma something specific to an individual leader?

6. Give some examples of current political leaders, either in Canada or elsewhere in the world, that you consider charismatic.




Have students use the topic site or other sources to learn how the media and other political leaders (such as Robert Stanfield of the Conservatives and T.C. "Tommy" Douglas of the NDP) responded to the phenomenon of "Trudeaumania" during the federal election campaign of June 1968.Students should discuss what these responses tell us about attitudes toward politicians and their public personae at the time, and how attitudes have changed.

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