These Brave New World Activities get students creating, debating, performing, and thinking critically. I order the list based on the chronology of the unit. Additional Brave New World tasks are listed under “Honorable Mentions.”
Post Preview: Brave New World Activities
- Create a Utopia
- Fictional Field Trip: The Hatchery and Conditioning Centre
- Fragmented Narration (performance)
- Hypnopedia Britannica: Brainwashing for Fun or Profit
- Classical Conditioning Experiment
- Invent a Sport for the World State
- Personality Test: Bernard, Helmholtz, Mond, or Lenina
- A Poem for Helmholtz (propaganda)
- Bernard Marx on Trial
- Debate: John v. Mond
1) Create a Utopia
You hold the future of humanity in your hands. World leaders have given you absolute authority in designing and implementing a new human existence. You will determine the form of the most ideal society possible.
Be prepared to share your vision with the class: Big Ideas, The Plan, and The Specifics (Goals and Values, Lifestyle, Economy, Government, and Fun Stuff).
2) Fictional Field Trip: The Hatchery and Conditioning Centre
Huxley introduces us to Brave New World through a tour of the Hatchery and Conditioning Centre – the baby factory. “The principle of mass production at last applied to biology.” The specifics of the tour overwhelm the reader, but we can get a better look by thinking about each room separately.
Create a visual and an audio tour message for one section of the Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. Make sure to include the most important terms and elements. Include text in the visual if clarification is necessary. Complete the fictional field trip by displaying all of the tour stops in order.
3) Fragmented Narration (performance)Brave New World Fragmented Reading
The narration of Chapter 3 continues the factory tour but then shifts to focus on Lenina Crowne. The structure becomes more complex as the narration fragments; it jumps suddenly between different conversations and thoughts. To further complicate matters, Huxley omits section breaks and uses a technique called “free indirect address” – you cannot be sure who or what is speaking.
Let’s read an excerpt from Chapter 3 together and illustrate the fragmented structure by having different readers represent the different fragments. We will need nine volunteers to read the nine color-coded parts.
Note: You can conclude this Brave New World activity with a reflection on the effects of the structure, or you can take it to the next level by having students create an original example of a fragmented narrative in small groups.
4) Hypnopedia Britannica: Brainwashing for Fun or Profit
Hypnopedia: sleep-learning; an attempt to convey information to a sleeping person.
from Greek hypnos, “sleep” + paideia “child”
The Hatchery and Conditioning Centres of Brave New World use hypnopedia or sleep-teaching to brainwash the citizens. How would you use this form of subliminal messaging to control others or even yourself?
Huxley uses hypnopedia slogans to illustrate the means of societal control and outline the World State’s objectives. There is no appendix of all the hypnopedic slogans in Brave New World. Hunt down all the brainwashing slogans in the book so far. For each slogan, explain why this lesson is important for the World State.
Lastly, create some new hypnopedic slogans for the people of Brave New World.Hypnopedia Britannica - Brave New World
5) Classical Conditioning Experiment
Lenina Crowne is miserable on the reservation in part due to the society’s conditioning practices. She was abused as a baby in association with natural stimuli. She feels discomfort in natural surroundings for no logical reason.
To understand her reaction, what psychologists call a conditioned response, we will learn about the methods of classical conditioning and the work of Ivan Pavlov.
1) Read about Pavlov’s dogs on the handout.
2) Practice with the hypothetical example.
3) Apply this knowledge to Lenina’s conditioned response.
4) Conduct the pulse experiment in partners.
5) Discuss real-life conditioning (if time allows).
6) Invent a Sport for the World State
Obstacle golf, centrifugal bumble-puppy, escalator squash, and Riemann-surface tennis have lost their luster for the consumers of Brave New World. The World State wants to boost the economy and divert the populace by inventing a new sport.
You have been assigned to the newly formed Department of Leisure Sports Development. Work with a team to design a sport for the people of Brave New World. You will present your idea and prototype to the World State Controllers.
7) Personality Test: Bernard, Helmholtz, Mond, or LeninaFoiled Again Characterization - Brave New World
A character foil is a character used to create contrast with another character. For example, the ordinary Dr. Watson is used to highlight Sherlock Holmes’ extraordinary traits. Can you think of any examples of character foils?
Who is the main character of Brave New World? Huxley performs what grandpappy called “the ol’ switcheroo.” He primes the reader to watch Bernard courageously rise as our individualistic hero, but that does not happen. Bernard fails to transcend his shortcomings and John “the savage” becomes the protagonist. This positions the two characters for comparison.
Huxley focuses on Bernard first. As a result, Bernard is the point of reference to which other characters are compared.
Foil Characters: Lenina Crowne, John Savage, Mustapha Mond, The D.H.C., Helmholtz Watson, Citizen A (the perfect citizen as represented by Fanny Crowne and others)
Characters Statements Activity (page 2 of the handout):
- Choose one of the seven characters to represent.
- Make a large name tag for the character.
- As the statements are read aloud, stand and/or hold up your sign when the statement applies to the character. (A class circle is best so that everyone can see each other.)
- Note instances of agreement and disagreement.
Conclusion: Huxley presents a variety of hypothetical individuals and their different reactions to life in the Brave New World. We have a complete outsider, perfect conformists, and insiders who fail to conform in a variety of ways. What is Huxley’s purpose in positioning the characters this way?
Note: You could approach this Brave New World activity from the opposite direction. Label one poster page for each of the seven characters. Assign each student 1 or 2 statements from the list to place correctly.
8) A Poem for Helmholtz (propaganda)
Huxley imagines a society reliant on propaganda. The citizens recognize and even celebrate this fact. Helmholtz takes pride in working for the College of Emotional Engineering within the Bureau of Propaganda. The term propaganda has lost its negative connotation.
Helmholtz excels in the Bureau until he shares some controversial poetry. He explains, “I wanted to do a bit of propaganda; I was trying to engineer them into feeling as I’d felt when I wrote the rhymes” (Huxley, 180).
- Analyze Helmholtz’s inappropriate poem.
- Help him return to favor by writing an appropriate poem—a poem that the Bureau of Propaganda will appreciate.
You might prepare students for this activity by extending your exploration of propaganda. A study of the propaganda of Huxley’s time provides insight to the novel.
Huxley volunteered to fight in World War I but was rejected due to his damaged eyesight. At that time, propaganda encouraging young men to join the fight pervaded England.
Propaganda is information, often of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a cause or point of view. It can take many forms. The information aims to propagate an idea without any concern for truth, fairness, or objectivity.
WWI English Propaganda Poems:
9) Bernard Marx on TrialBernard Marx on Trial Activity
Helmholtz accepts his banishment at the hands of Controller Mond and the World State. One suspects that Helmholtz embraces the prospect of finding authentic adventure. On the other hand, the same ruling devastates Bernard Marx, who cannot fathom his misfortune.
Imagine that the World State has decided to hold a hearing / debate / trial to decide if Bernard should be exiled to an island. The case will require the participation of prosecutors, defenders, witnesses, jurors, a judge, and the defendant, Bernard Marx.
This Brave New World activity is not exactly a mock trial nor a debate nor a scripted drama. With the right group students, it can be quite fun.
10) Debate: John v. Mond
Resolved: “The World State should gradually move humanity toward a more natural state—free of social predestination, conditioning, and dependence on soma.”
The discussion between John Savage and Controller Mond lays bare Huxley’s essential question: What is best for humanity? Both characters are free-thinkers who understand past, but they arrive at different conclusions. Who is right?
Imagine that John the Savage is alive and that Controller Mond’s experiment has attracted the attention of other World State leaders. Some leaders wonder if John, Helmholtz, and other dissenters are right. The controllers have decided to hold a debate. The future of humanity hangs in the balance.
Mustafa Mond’s last name comes from British industrialist Alfred Mond. Monde also means “world” in French, so it is appropriate that he speaks for the World State.
Honorable Mentions: Brave New World Activities
Some of these tasks are essential to the unit content, but might not meet a teacher’s definition of “activity.” Is completing an anticipation guide an activity? Is a short research project an activity? This being said, here are some additional tasks to consider.
Anticipation Guide and Pre-reading Discussion
I love anticipation guides as a means to raise thought-provoking questions before starting a novel. Check out Brave New World Pre-reading Activities to access the anticipation guide and other free resources.
Speculative Fiction Read-N-Share
Prepare students for Huxley’s disturbing vision by having them analyze other examples of speculative fiction. I break the students into five or so groups and assign each group a short story to analyze and present. This jigsaw activity allows the class to discuss several examples expediently.
The key for this activity is that students think about the strengths and conventions of the genre.
Are You Being Controlled? (personal survey)
How free are our minds? Are our choices being made for us? Are we powerless in the face of unwelcome influence? This survey gets students thinking about and discussing these uncomfortable questions.
Note: The accompanying lesson focuses mainly on the psychological manipulations of big tech companies.
Huxley’s Real World (research task)
Have students research and present on one element of life in Western society in the 1920s and 1930s in order to contextualize the novel. The worksheet steers students towards key topics of the novel.
Students should be thinking about Huxley’s key symbols as they read. By the end of the novel, they should be prepared to offer textual evidence and analysis.
What’s Shakespeare Got to Do with It?
Ensuring that students have a working knowledge of Huxley’s allusions to Shakespeare presents a challenge. It is probably beyond the scope of the unit to study The Tempest, King Lear, Othello, etc. in entirety. On the other hand, you cannot neglect this critical element of the novel.
The activity above strikes a balance; students will be able explain the meanings behind the allusions without undertaking an exhaustive study of Shakespeare’s collected works.
Debate: How relevant is Brave New World Today?
Even the most contrarian student will agree that Huxley’s vision was shockingly prescient in 1932, but does the warning maintain its relevance? To what degree are today’s readers informed or engaged by his Brave New World? Does Brave New World still deserve its place as one of the most widely read books in high schools?
Thanks for reading Top 10 Brave New World Activities!
I hope that you have found some ideas that will help you in your teaching. These activities are taken from the complete unit resource which includes all of the Brave New World activities and worksheets. For free resources and helpful ideas, check out all of the Brave New World posts from TeachNovels.