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9-12 > World History
Grade level: 9-12 Subject: World History Duration: Two class periods
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The Forbidden City

Students will understand the following:
1. The rulers of the Manchu dynasty were isolated from the common Chinese people and vice versa.
2. Access to U.S. government officials and access to officials in the People’s Republic of China can be compared and contrasted with access to rulers of the Manchu dynasty.

For this lesson, you will need:
Reference materials on Beijing and Washington, D.C.

1. Ask your students what the termforbidden cityconjures up for them. Allow students to make informed guesses in answering the questionsWho was forbidden?andWhat was forbidden?
2. Read the following paragraph about the Forbidden City from theEncartaencyclopedia entry on the Manchu rulers who took over China in 1644: Deep in the center of Beijing, far from the ordinary people, was the Forbidden City, where the emperor resided and carried out affairs of the state. Spread out over a large area were audience halls, libraries, and theaters, all covered in tile roofs glazed in a yellow reserved solely for the emperor. Surrounding this area was the Imperial City, with granaries, temples, residences for high officials, and workshops of artisans who provided services and goods for the imperial household. Circling that was the Tartar City, occupied by Manchu bannermen; and to the south was the Native City, where the Chinese resided. Each of these cities within cities had its own wall, which clearly organized and defined the status of its residents. Ask your students for their interpretations of the preceding paragraph: What does it say about social classes? How do your students respond to this picture of segregation within the larger entity known as Beijing?
3. Directing all your students to read more about the Forbidden City from its founding until 1949, give half the class compare-contrast assignment A and the other half compare-contrast assignment B, which follow. Make sure all students understand that their finished papers must be structured around similarities and differences.
  1. Write a report on what happened to the Forbidden City after 1949 and how it remained like the Forbidden City under the Manchu dynasty or how it changed. In your response, explain in what ways it remains an isolated, elitist part of Beijing and in what ways the area has been democratized. Explain what access Chinese residents and non-Chinese tourists have today to the Forbidden City.
  2. Write a report on how Washington, D.C., at the beginning of the 21st century, is or is not like the Forbidden City under the Manchu dynasty. Make sure you include examples to support any generalizations that you make. Explain what access American residents and non-American tourists have today to sites within Washington, D.C.
4. Review as necessary the meaning ofcomparisonand ofcontrast.The first refers to finding similarities between two people, objects, or concepts; the second refers to finding differences between two people, objects, or concepts.
5. As with any comparison-and-contrast report, remind students that writers must identify features or categories on which their two entities can be legitimately compared and contrasted. That is, the writer cannot simply say that the pre-1949 Forbidden City was different from the post-1949 Forbidden City. Rather, the writer must detailhoworin what waythe two were different.
6. Students should begin identifying and reading reference materials about the Forbidden City, which may range from history textbooks to tourist guides. If necessary, caution students about intentional and unintentional plagiarism, making sure they understand when to summarize a source, when to paraphrase a source, and when to quote.
7. Also, as necessary, direct students to sources that will help them keep detailed and accurate bibliographic records of each source. They can find instructions in Modern Language Association bibliographic style
8. Having conducted research, taken notes, and chosen the features or categories for their comparison-contrast reports, students should use one of the following prewriting graphic organizers for ordering their thoughts:
  • Comparison-contrast chart with three columns, the first headed “Feature,” the second headed “Pre-1949 Forbidden City,” and the third headed either “Post-1949 Forbidden City” or “21st-Century Washington, D.C.”
  • Venn diagram with similarities between the two cities noted in the overlapping sections, particularities of the pre-1949 Forbidden City listed in the left section, and particularities of the other time or place in the right section.
9. Students should write their first drafts, following their graphic organizers and noting each point at which they must cite a given source. Remind students that they should proceed in one of two ways: (1) mentioning a feature and covering each of the two subjects in terms of that feature before moving on to another feature; (2) writing about all the similarities first and then writing about all the differences between the two subjects. Determine if you want students to engage in peer editing or if you will be the sole reader of the reports.
11. Students writing in response to assignment A should exchange finished papers with students writing in response to assignment B and help one another with peer editing before everyone submits papers to you.
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Concentrate on helping students understand the differences between the old, imperial system of government in China, the Communist system in place in the People’s Republic of China, and the three-branch federal system in place in the United States of America.
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Discussion Questions

1. In the introduction to this program, the narrator describes the Forbidden City as "palace and prison in one." Explain what he meant by this. What other situations, historical or current, might also be described in this way?
2. Why was astronomy important to the emperors of the Forbidden City, and how did it affect life within the walls? Compare this with what you believe to be the impact of astronomy today.
3. How did the differing Chinese and British views on trade within China and the sale of opium lead to conflict?
4. What happened to the last emperor after he abdicated the throne? What does his story say about the role of imperial China in modern China?
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You can evaluate students’ written responses using the following three-point rubric:
Three points:provides clear thesis statement and topic sentences that are supported; identifies and provides details about similarities and differences; contains error-free grammar, usage, and mechanics
Two points:lacks clear thesis statement and topic sentences; identifies and provides details about similarities and differences; contains some errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
One point:lacks clear thesis statement and topic sentences; does not identify and provide details about similarities and differences; contains many errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
You can ask your students to contribute to the assessment rubric by determining the number of similarities and differences the report should include.
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Imperial China versus the West
In order to have the students more fully understand the relations between imperial China and the West, form small groups to role-play the mediation of trade relations between the British and the Chinese in the mid-1850s. Selected students in each group should portray the Chinese, the British, and neutral mediators. Have each side present its point of view on trade. Give each side a chance to respond to the other. Then have the students serving as mediators attempt to propose a solution to each side. Allow each side to accept or decline the proposed solution. Ask each group then to report to the class on the solutions that they proposed and whether they were accepted. Discuss how the students’ solutions differed from the solutions actually arrived at by the Chinese and British. Consider historical and cultural perspectives to discuss why such differences might exist.

Stay Tuned for News from China
Divide the students into news teams, and designate whether they represent a British television station, a Chinese station, or the station of a neutral country. Have each team write three 1-minute segments to appear on the evening news, detailing three events involving China and Britain that actually occurred within the last three hundred years.

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Suggested Readings

"Adversaries and Authorities: Investigations into Ancient Greek and Chinese Science"
G.E.R. Lloyd, Cambridge University Press, 1996

"Asian Voyages: Two Thousand Years of Constructing the Other"
O.R. Dathorne, Bergin and Garvey, 1996

"Beyond the Great Wall: Urban Form and Transformation on the Chinese Frontiers"
Piper Rae Gaubatz, Stanford University Press, 1996

"China's Forbidden City"
Sheila Tefft, Christian Science Monitor, May 17, 1995, 10:1

"China's Legalists: The Earliest Totalitarians and their Art of Ruling"
Zhengyuan Fu, M.E. Sharpe, 1996

"The Key to the Forbidden City"
Oliver Bernier, Travel and Leisure, January 1995

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The Forbidden City
This page is chiefly pictorial. It contains a brief text introduction, followed by five pictures of the better-known sites within the Forbidden City, with an explanation of the site's historical links. It also offers a long list of other Chinese Internet sites.

Discover China
Chinese poetry, folk music, great food! It's all here at Discover China. Take a virtual tour of China's fascinating venues. Search China's largest database for information. And experience delightful recipes from the Far East every week.

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Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    barbarian
Definition:Someone believed to be inferior, primitive or brutal in comparison with another nation or civilization.
Context:The Jesuit Ferdinand Verbiest was a Westerner and therefore a barbarian.

speaker    dynasty
Definition:A succession of rulers of a country, all belonging to the same powerful family.
Context:In the end, here was a dynasty expected to last forever until time brought it all to a close.

speaker    kowtow
Definition:The act of showing deep respect for someone in authority by kneeling and touching one's forehead to the ground.
Context:The kowtow literally meant knocking one's head.

speaker    mandate
Definition:The authority to carry out specific policies or to act as a representative of a government.
Context:Kangxi's mandate, like the mandates of all the emperors, came not from the people, but from the heavens.

speaker    protocol
Definition:The procedures and standards of correct behavior and etiquette, especially in diplomatic and other formal relations.
Context:Protocol: Two arrogant empires had to find a way of saying hello to each other without causing offense, but without losing face.

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This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
Grade level:9-12
Subject area:world history
Understands patterns of crisis and recovery in Afro-Eurasia between 1300 and 1450.
Understands shifts in the leadership and political climate in China.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:world history
Understands how large territorial empires dominated much of Eurasia between the 16th and 18th centuries.
Understands significant cultural and social features of the Ming Dynasty.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:world history
Understands transformations in Asian societies in the era of European expansion.
Understands the economic and cultural consequences of European involvement in other countries.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:world history
Understands major global trends from 1450 to 1770.
Understands how the Ming and Qing rulers viewed the European merchants, Christian missionaries, and military personnel who sought trading privileges in China.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:world history
Understands how Eurasian societies were transformed in an era of global trade and the emergence of European power from 1750 to 1850.
Understands China's relations with Western countries.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:world history
Understands patterns of global change in the era of Western military and economic domination from 1850 to 1914.
Understands significant political events in 20th-century China.

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