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Lesson Plan:

For Teachers: What Makes a Great Leader?

Type: Assignment
Subjects: History, Political Science, Social Studies
Grades: Grades 6-8
Duration: 2 lessons
Purpose: To consider factors that contribute to success
Summary: Students will consider the factors important for political success and evaluate the extent to which Tommy Douglas possessed those factors.

Before Exploring

Ask students: What do you think makes a politician appealing to voters? What do you think makes a politician successful? List their responses on the board or chart paper. Ask students to identify current international political figures and which of the listed qualities they possess. Ask: Which qualities do you think should be important when selecting our leaders? Post these qualities as well.

Outline the Opportunity

Direct students to the topics The Birth of Medicare and Tommy Douglas and the NDP on the CBC Digital Archives website. Working in small groups, students will browse the site for about 30 minutes to review Tommy Douglas and his role in Canadian politics from the 1930s to the end of his life. Students will then use the site to respond to the following questions:

 Why did Douglas appeal to voters?
What were Douglas' key political beliefs and principles?
What leadership qualities did Douglas possess?
What other qualities would you attribute to Douglas? How did these qualities enable him to achieve political success?

Revisit and Reflect

As a class, compare the qualities students attribute to Douglas to the qualities they suggested in Before Exploring. Discuss the similarities and differences, if any, between politicians today and politicians in Douglas' time. Have groups discuss the following statement:

Canada would be a better place today if a person like Tommy Douglas was the federal leader of one of the political parties.


Students can create a political cartoon that explains their personal view of the leadership qualities of Tommy Douglas.