Iron Curtain

Subject: History
Summary: Students try to discover the implications of the Iron Curtain through personal experience and imagining themselves in the shoes of people having to cope with movement restrictions. Using the “Opinion scales” method, students try to define their own attitude towards the issue.
Activity length: Duration is 2x45 minutes.
  • Students find information about the Iron Curtain during the Cold War and other similar examples of the world today.
  • Students determine and understand the advantages and disadvantages of free movement of the people and goods in Europe.

Teacher prepares the classroom so it would have an empty space in the middle of the class and could be used for the method “Opinion scales”.

Teacher explains the “Opinion scales” method.


Part 1: Select two students who are to act as people behind the Iron Curtain. Rest of the class are to stand in the middle of the class representing the barrier itself. The role of the two students is to get to the other side of the barrier created by the rest of the class. Students who represent the barrier, are given the instruction not to allow anyone to penetrate the “Iron Curtain”. Finish the activity after about 1 minute and ask the students how they felt when they could not go to the other side.

Part 2: Divide students into three to six groups depending on the size of the class. Each group is given a different role. Choosing to play with more groups than three, duplicate the roles.

The first group’s task will be to seek information on the Internet to explain the concept of the Iron Curtain. Why were physical barriers created? How effective were they? How did they Iron Curtain function where the physical restrictions were not in place? Group needs to analyze this from the perspective of the regimes.

The second group will try to describe life behind the Iron Curtain for different people: musicians/artists, athletes, workers, businessmen etc. How did the barrier influence their lives. The third group needs to find and analyze examples of movement restrictions in today’s world. When necessary the teacher can add a perspective of a citizen from an EU non-Schengen member state, Syrian refugee or Mexican migrants on the US-Mexico border. All groups must prepare at least 6 statements for the “Opinion scales” game which they will write down for the teacher to use.

Part 3: Each group gets 5-10 minutes to present their perspectives and results. When choosing to have more than three groups this time must be divided between groups.

Part 4: Method of opinion scales: one wall of the class is marked “I totally agree”, the other as “I totally disagree”. Teacher will explain the principles of the opinion scales. Teacher will start presenting claims previously prepared by the groups, of which the students will have to choose a preference. The closer the students stands to the wall, the more they agree/disagree with the statement. Students have to pick their preference according to their personal opinion. After each setup of students on a scale, some students are asked (preferably different opinion) to explain its position.


No assessment planned but active participation can be rewarded.