TEACHING TIME: Two or three 50-minute class periods
- Students will gain an understanding of some popular 19th century
ideas concerning “other” peoples.
- Students will interpret 19th century illustrations and discuss the role
of the media in shaping people’s perceptions of the Chinese immigrant
- Students will be able to describe prevalent 19th century stereotypes
of the Chinese.
- Students will relate the treatment of the Chinese to that of other minority
groups in the 19th century.
Adapting the Lesson for Middle School
The 19th century ideas that are presented in this lesson
are difficult to fully grasp and easy to misunderstand. Middle school teachers
should preview the materials carefully to see if they are appropriate for their
students. Some of the activities that deal with the portrayal of the Chinese
in the media might work well with older middle school students. However, students
will need a fair amount of background knowledge that the teacher will have
to provide in order to interpret the illustrations. We suggest using the illustrations
as part of a complete lesson relating to the perception and treatment of immigrants.
The excerpt from Jacob Riis’ book How the Other
Half Lives would be difficult
for middle school students to read as it contains many words unfamiliar to
middle school readers. The teacher could read all or parts of the passage,
then ask the students to describe Riis’ depiction of Chinatown and Chinese
people in their own words. What adjectives describing the Chinese did the Riis’ portrayal
evoke in students’ minds as they listened to this passage?