History KS3: Communism

A short animation for KS3 student about communism: its core beliefs, and its followers and critics.

After introducing the term ‘communism’ and its origins in Mark and Engels’ pamphlet ‘The Communist Manifesto’, the film outlines the political ideology of communism. It covers the 1917 Russian Revolution, the foundation of the Soviet Union in 1922 and its power and influence in Eastern Europe and global politics during the Cold War.

Illustrative examples are chosen from popular schemes of learning so that learners can confidently apply their knowledge and appreciate the dynamic nature of the concept being explained. This film could be used to support learners investigating:

  • Challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day
  • At least one study of a significant society or issue in world history and its interconnections with other world developments, for example, Changing Russian empires c.1800-1989
  • At least one study of a significant society or issue in world history and its interconnections with other world developments - USA in the 20th Century
For further context, we've included this video in which journalist Brian Hanrahan returns to Berlin 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Our World: Fall of the Wall, BBC News, Sunday 8 November 2009, 14:30

Teacher Notes

This short film can be used for whole class direct instruction or with smaller groups and individuals.

Since the film is designed to help clarify the meaning of communism, it can be used as a flexible tool to help learners make connections and think about changes and causation leading to similarity and difference with other social and political systems in various parts of the world.

The film can be revisited throughout the key stage depending upon learners’ differing needs and starting points to help reinforce the umbrella term, consolidate knowledge and understanding and aid progression.

Accompanying films in this series on Capitalism and Revolution might be helpful to students wishing to know more.

Suggested activities
Individually or in groups, students could predict the film content in advance, drawing up a key word list and whilst watching, cross check what they have written with what they learn in the film. This could help correct any preconceptions, assumptions or misconceptions that students have about the topic.

The film could be preparatory work, with students encouraged to watch and generate some questions about the topic before a sequence of learning.

Students could watch this film in conjunction with the video about Capitalism, and draw up a table of similarities and differences.

Students could initially watch the film and then later ‘write the script’ or provide a voice over recalling information from memory by way of retrieval practice in a ‘storyboard’ style.

Students could actively watch whilst answering a series of questions generated by the teacher which have been tailored to the period under study. This could perhaps lead to a summarising pyramid.

Students could be encouraged to draw a diagram to represent their understanding of how a communist system of government might come about and work.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is relevant for teaching history at KS3 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 3rd Level in Scotland.

More from this series: