The Emancipation Proclamation: Communicate to Motivate

By Lewis, Regina | Black History Bulletin, Summer-Fall 2006 | Go to article overview

The Emancipation Proclamation: Communicate to Motivate


Lewis, Regina, Black History Bulletin


As an assistant professor of communication, I find students often struggle with what to say in an appropriate way, and yet do not fully consider the emotional response or responses their words might generate from a listener. To successfully impart information, a speaker should be cognizant of a listener's potential emotional, as well as intellectual, reception to the speaker's words.

A recent event at my son's school reinforced my belief that there are right ways and wrong ways to communicate emotions in order to motivate others to take action. My son came home one day very upset because a classmate called him the "N" word, and the school took no action. Of course I was enraged, but instead of rushing off to the school in an emotional state to vent my anger, I took a calmer and more deliberate approach that has proven to be far more productive. In short, I initiated a series of calm yet firm communications to the school that has motivated the school to take action in the form of a formal initiative to educate faculty, staff, parents, and students about the history of the "N" word, and about why usage of that word is inappropriate. There were many ways I could have communicated my concerns to my son's school--the history of the "N" word, and about why usage of that word is inappropriate. There were many ways I could have communicated my concerns to my son's school--but choosing the right words made all the difference between motivating the school's administrators, versus merely aggravating them.

In teaching communication classes, I often describe how messages, such as the Emancipation Proclamation, delivered by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, can motivate people to take action. The following lesson plan, based on the Emancipation Proclamation, is designed to provide strategies for students to recognize the differences between messages that motivate, and messages that aggravate.

LESSON PLAN

The Emancipation Proclamation: Communicate to Motivate

by Regina Lewis

Connection to High School

High school students often struggle with what to say in an appropriate way. They sometimes feel they are unheard, disrespected, or treated unjustly. Often this frustration is a result of knowing what to say, but not knowing how to say it appropriately. This lesson plan is a useful tool to address the role of effective communication, and to provide strategies for students to recognize the differences between messages that motivate, and messages that aggravate.

Objective

Students will analyze and interpret emotional messages, concern, and word choices of President Abraham Lincoln in communicating the Emancipation Proclamation.

National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) Standards

U. S. History Teacher Expectations:

* Enable learners to develop historical comprehension in order that they might reconstruct the literal meaning of a historical passage; identify the central question(s) addressed in historical narrative; draw upon data in historical maps, charts, and other graphic organizers; and draw upon visual, literary, or musical sources;

* Guide learners in practicing skills of historical analysis and interpretation, such as: compare and contrast; differentiate between historical facts and interpretations; consider multiple perspectives; analyze cause and effect relationships; compare competing historical narratives; recognize the tentative nature of historical interpretations; and hypothesize the influence of the past;

* Help learners to identify issues and problems in the past; recognize factors contributing to such problems; identify and analyze alternative courses of action; formulate a position of course of action; and evaluate the implementation of that decision;

* Enable learners to develop historical understanding through the avenues of social, political, economical, and cultural history; and the history of science and technology.

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