Have students stand in a semi-circle. Ask the student at the start of the circle to read and memorize a complicated sentence provided to them. Have that student whisper that sentence into the ear of the person beside them. Students will play “telephone” until the sentence has passed through everybody. Students may only listen to it once and then pass on what they have heard.
At the end of the activity, have the student at the end of the line repeat what they think was said. It should be different from what the sentence started as.
Discuss with the class why the sentence changed. (Misinformation, perception on what was heard, or what should have been heard.)
Ask students what are the risks when we rely exclusively on reporters for our information? (Bias, misinformation, only telling one side of the story etc.)
Discuss current events that are applicable. Eg. Russian newspapers only being given information from one perspective relating to the Crimean crisis.
Introduce students to Nicholas de Grandmaison using the LINK provided. While de Grandmaison was “reporting” on the First Nations in Canada, others were reporting on who he was and what he was doing.
Assign students the role of reporters. Using the materials linked below, task students with researching enough about de Grandmaison’s work that they are able to write a clear and unbiased article on his work. The chart provided below may assist in organizing student’s thoughts. After students have organized their work on the chart, have them write their own, factual article on de Grandmaison’s motives for painting the First Nations Peoples.
A printable PDF version can be found here.
Discuss or have students complete a journal reflecting on the question:
Nicholas de Grandmaison was exiled from his home in Russia and spent time in a prisoner of war camp. What kind of perspective did he likely share with the First Nations people of Canada? How might this perspective have affected his portrayal of First Nations people in Canada within his paintings?
• A discussion on cultural contact between First Nations peoples and Europeans may be a necessary starting point. Both de Grandmaison and the First Nations are people who had “home” threatened or taken from them.
Consider assessing student newspaper articles for general understanding of Nicholas de Grandmaison and also for skills in critical thinking to draw conclusions about de Grandmaison’s motives for representing the First Nations people as he did.