"If the World Was a Village ... 

Examining Ethnocentrism"

LESSON PLAN, Grade 7, Adaptable/or Grades 4 and Up

Megan DeSellier

Hartford Memorial Middle School

Introduction: As Americans, we rank very low on the global scale in our knowledge of other cultures and of geography in general. When studying geography, history , anthropology, or many other disciplines, we need to examine our own cultural bias in order to see how objective, truly aware, and respectful of our world we can be. This lesson examines the concept of ethnocentrism and our perceptions of ourselves as Americans in the world.

Objectives: The students will: 

(1) examine their own perceptions of the world's people, and compare those perceptions to real demographic data, and

(2) provide a definition of and an understanding of the term "ethnocentrism," and examine their own ethnocentrism based on the comparison of their perceptions to reality.

Geographic Theme: Place

National Geography Standards:

- Number 6 (how culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions)

- Number 9 (the characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth's surface)

- Number 18 (how to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future)

State Geography Standard:

- Number 6.7 .a (describe the physical and cultural geography and spatial organization of the time and place under study, and explain changes over time)

Time: 2 class periods


(1) a large sheet of paper and a marker for each student group

(2) an overhead of the questions to ask the students

(3) an overhead of the answers to the questions on the first overhead


(1) Divide the students into groups of three or four. Give each group a large sheet of paper and a marker. Have one person be the recorder and one be a presenter at the end of the activity.

(2) Tell the students that, for this lesson, the world is a village of 100 people. Have them give numerical estimates to the following questions. Be sure that they understand that they are using 100 for each question.


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(3) Give the groups ten minutes, or longer if necessary, to discuss and record their answers. The older the group, the more time they'll need.

( 4) Have each group present their findings.

(5) Compare the student results with the actual statistics on the overhead. Discuss any similarities and differences in the findings.

(6) Ask "What are our perceptions of the global population?" and "What do our perceptions reflect about our culture and our awareness of others?"

(7) Introduce the term "ethnocentric." Ask students what they think it means, and then provide a definition.

(8) Explain the significance of their findings. Ask "Where they or were they not ethnocentric?" and "Why is it important to be aware of other people in the world?"

(9) Ask "How does geography enable us to understand other people?" Encourage a discussion.



(1) To continue, have the students brainstorm ways that we are affected by geography. How do we use it? Who uses it?

(2) Have the students do the calculations themselves using the most current population statistics available, for either a village of 100 or a village of 1000. Use the most recent World Almanac or the CIA World Factbook on the Internet  http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html

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