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Philosophy of War from different times in History


Valentina Tenedini

A cross-curricular activity on the theme of war. This activity leads the students to think of war in a universal, cross-historical, cosmic perspective. It helps them consolidate knowledge of several crosscurricular subjects (History, Italian, French, English, Philosophy), to analyse the language of poetry and song lyrics and use English in a cross-curricular context for spoken and written communication.

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Lesson plan

Class: Final year of High school

  • Level B1/2



  • Some knowledge of the 2 World Wars or some war poetry (the latter is advisable but not indispensable)


Lecture organisation:

  • Time:1 or 2 modules devoted to the activity related to the pps presentation –
  • Follow up –the study of war poetry in a European context (10-15 modules depending on the students’ response and interest).
  • Additional tools needed: (beyond powerpoint – IWB.( pc and projector) textbooks- the internet.


NB: Suggested structure

  • Introduction: focus on the 20th century historical background - brainstorming activity to recall what students know / may have studied with their History, French, Italian, philosophy teachers
  • 1st part: set a context, (see above)
  • 2nd part: after showing the presentation check that the students recognise the names of the authors of the quotes (explain vocabulary which may cause confusion); encourage them to find out more for next lesson- elicit the students comment on the quotes they have just read.
  • Conclusion : writing and speaking activity: Students can carry out the activity suggested at the end of the presentation in writing (in about 100 words – tipologia b 3^ prova ES) /or choose their favourite quote, and prepare a short comment to connect with the study of one/more war poems studied.



  • Text(s) to be read in class: during the following *blended lessons (on War poetry)
  • An Irish airman foresees his death, W.B. Yeats
  • The soldier, R. Brooke,
  • Survivors, Does it matter?, Base details, Suicide in the trenches, Futility , S. Sassoon;
  • Veglia, G. Ungaretti;
  • Et combine j’en ai vue, G. Apollinaire .


*Whenever possible MP4 files of the lyrics/ video are shown in class.


Further reading: S. Sasson “ Glory of women”; W. Owen: “Anthem for Doomed Youth” “Dulce et Decorum Est”.

Students are encouraged to approach the text by themselves first; then the teacher guides the analyses and elicits spontaneous comment; finally, the students’ interpretations are compared to those by the authors provided by the literature books or the internet.

POSSIBLE EXTENSION: My syllabus segment regarding the theme of war usually starts with a reference to “la Guerra di Piero, by F. De André and ends with the vision of the music videoclip “Pipes of Peace” by P. McCartney and an MP4 file showing the poem “la Ninna nanna della guerra” by the roman vernacular poem F. Trilussa.


  • To think of war in a universal, cross-historical, cosmic perspective
  • To consolidate knowledge of several cross-curricular subjects (History, Italian, French, English, Philosophy)
  • To analyse the language of poetry and song lyrics
  • To use English in a cross-curricular context for spoken and written communication
  • To practice leaving exam skills
Download this file (philosophy of war_Tenedini .doc)Philosophy of War_Tenedini[Scarica la lezione in formato .doc]40 kB
Download this file (PHILOSOPHY OF WAR_Tenedini.ppt)Philosophy of War_Tenedini[Scarica le slides della lezione in formato .ppt]369 kB

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