The following activities offer some ideas for ways to use the Asian Revolutions in the Twentieth Century website in the classroom. See also the Student Activities sections of The Middle East and Asia: Revolutions in Comparative Perspective and Poster Politics: The Art of Revolution.

Discussion Questions

Use the timeline and online resources pages for Mao, Gandhi, Ho Chi Minh, and Aung San Suu Kyi to answer the following questions:

  • What makes these leaders revolutionary?
  • How did each leader define “revolution"?
  • What did these leaders have in common in terms of background, education, key influences on their lives, beliefs, tactics, and goals? In what ways do they differ? How do you account for these similarities and differences?
  • How did their cultural and national situations affect their politics and their revolutions?
  • How did these leaders mobilize popular support? Were some more popular than others?
  • What groups or constituencies did each leader seek to mobilize? What groups or constituencies did they marginalize or demonize?
  • Which key strategies did these leaders use, and how would you evaluate their success?
  • Which leader(s) had the greatest influence on their society? Their region? The world?
  • Compare the ways the leaders (for example, Mao and Gandhi) are portrayed in photos and artistically (including propaganda posters). What do these depictions tell us about the leaders’ style and image?

What Makes a Good Leader?

Set up a panel with individual students or groups of students representing a particular revolutionary leader. Have students discuss their leadership qualities, the quality of their ideas, and why they were successful. This activity can also be done online.

Revolution: Violent vs. Non-violent

Set up a debate: Mao and Ho (and possibily Lenin) on one side, Gandhi and Aung San Suu Kyi on the other. Debate the merits of violent vs. non-violent revolution.

Communist World Leaders

Compare Mao Zedong and Ho Chi Minh to Fidel Castro and Lenin. Use the Communist Manifesto as background:

Leaders of China

Use the Mao Zedong Online Resources page to compare his ideas to those of other leaders of China. For comparisons, use:

The Salt March and the Long March

Using the Mao and Gandhi pages, compare the use and legacy of Mao’s Long March and Gandhi’s Salt March.

Political Culture of Asia

Have students read about Mao, Ho, Gandhi and Aung San Suu Kyi. Then, read current articles about life in China, Vietnam, India, and Burma. Have them note enduring reference to these leaders.