Terrorism: What? When? Where?

Themes (Ages 11-14)
Terrorism: What? When? Where?

This session has been included in Miriam's Vision in response to students' inevitable question: "Why?"

This is not addressed in our curricular modules so in this thematic session we contextualise the 2005 London bombings in terms of the organisation that took responsibility for the event, and in terms of the history of terrorism.

Key Messages
  • Terrorism is not a modern phenomenon. It has taken place over time and all over the world.
  • Miriam's Vision: A Response to the 2005 London Bombings is the response of the Miriam Hyman Memorial Trust to her death
  • Understand that it is difficult to define terrorism
  • Understand some of the vocabulary associated with terrorism
  • Have some points of reference in relation to terrorism
  • Consider the use of violence in making change
  • Compare definitions of terrorism
  • Define some vocabulary associated with terrorism and understand how it relates to terrorism
  • Discover and compare some terrorist histories
  • Debate the use of violence in making change

This thematic session works well with the Miriam's Vision PSHE, Citizenship and History modules or as a stand-alone session.

In this plan we have provided enough material for one or two sessions, depending on ability levels and time available. For shorter, less demanding sessions, reduce the number of examples.


Project MV Terrorism 1.1 What? When? Where? Slides 2 and 3 look at definitions of terrorism. Read through the definitions as a class. Students don't need to grasp every detail. Answer the question, "What similarities and differences do these definitions have?" You may want to draw a table on the board with "Similarities" in one column and "Differences" in the other and note the points as the class makes them. After doing an example as a class, this could alternatively be done in pairs, feeding back to ensure understanding.

It is for legal reasons that the UN are still struggling to officially define terrorism. Without a definition, individuals cannot be prosecuted under law. So an internationally agreed legal definition has still not been resolved.

Slide 4 can be used in different ways. It lists sixteen terms that are associated with violent struggle. Hand out copies of, or project, MV Terrorism 1.2 Definitions. There are three columns: The first lists the words from Slide 4 with alternative forms of those words. The second gives a short definition. MV Terrorism 1.2 Definitions differentiated up has the second column blank for students to fill in themselves. The third column, "Connection to terrorism", is to be filled in by students. You may wish to reduce the number of terms. For that purpose we have provided the Definitions sheet as a Word document where you can make alterations.

Phase 1

Slide 5 introduces the main part of the session. Five examples are provided of organisations and an individual that have been labelled as terrorists at one time or another in their history. They are:

  • The Irish Republican Army
  • The Suffragettes
  • The African National Congress
  • Anders Behring Breivik
  • Al-Qaeda

You may not wish to use all five examples, but the overall point is that terrorism has taken place across the world over time.

Slide 6 introduces the questions that are asked at the end of each example:

  • Who were they?
  • Where were they active?
  • When were they active?
  • Key incidents
  • Definitions


Slides 7 to 26 give five brief case histories followed by the same six questions. You may want to have the class work all together, in groups, pairs or individually on this task. If it helps, use the vocabulary from MV Terrorism 1.2 Definitions.pdf. Bullet point answers are enough to focus attention.

A key point is that definitions of an organisation may change over time, for example the ANC was seen as a terrorist organisation by the ruling National Party between 1948 and 1990 but they went on to be the democratically elected ruling party of South Africa themselves in 1994.

The case study on Al-Qaeda explains that Miriam's Vision was created in response to the 2005 London bombings.

Slide 27 is a world map with the heading, "On the map locate where each is, or was, active." Using arrows or sticky notes on the projection, or individually on print-outs of the slide, identify the areas affected in the case studies. The point is that acts of terrorism have taken place all over the world.

Slide 28 says, "Create a timeline and locate when each was active." Using the projected line or creating your own, as a class or individually or in groups, show the active times for each case. The point is that acts of terrorism have taken place over history.

Slide 29 asks students to examine the similarities and differences between the different cases. You may choose to do this as a class, noting responses in two columns.


Slide 30 poses the question, "Can violence be justified to achieve change?" It is suggested to discuss, or debate, the question as a class with a vote at the end. You may wish to set it as homework. The point is that there are arguments to be made on both sides, but that within a democratic society the aim is to make change whilst respecting human rights.