For Teachers

To make the issues of community and national security more accessible to students, the company has created a lesson plan to be used in conjunction with in-school workshops, and viewing of the performance.

Dance is more than just physical motion, and while dance can be used to reinforce writing, or math, it is also a subject key and pathway to teach history and social science. Bettmann Dances is committed to providing arts in education experiences of depth and substance, and we’re working to support the teachers who make those experiences possible.

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Quis Custodiet Lesson Plan


By the end of class students will be able to analyze problems and develop solutions associated with “watchers” in contemporary U.S. society by correctly completing a graphic organizer.

Essential Questions:
(1) What are the social costs of security in our society?
(2) Who shall watch the watchers themselves?


Students enter class and there is a survey (attached) on their desk asking them to Strongly Agree, Agree, be Neutral, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree with the statements: (1) I trust my government completely; (2) Personal freedoms should be sacrificed for the sake of national security. Students will be asked to choose their response and put this aside.

TEACHER SAYS: The quote, “Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes” means “Who Shall Watch the Watchers Themselves.” It originated in Rome in the 1st or 2nd century. In the context of the September 11, 2001 attacks and the U.S. security measures that followed, consider who “the watchers” are and independently brainstorm a list. Now pair up with a partner and discuss your ideas. (Give students several minutes for this task).

Teacher will use equity sticks to call on students to share their ideas, and will generate a class list of Watchers on chart paper.

Mini Lesson/Teacher delivery of new material:

Depending on grade level and background knowledge, students may need background on some terms/concept from the poem: Red Tape, Nemesis, Masonic plot, Habeas Corpus. Teacher will explain these terms to students prior to reading. (Briefly, red tape is an idiom referring to barriers to getting something accomplished; nemesis is a synonym for enemy and also a Greek myth; the Masons are a secretive group dating back hundreds of years to whom conspiracy theorists attribute great involvement in U.S. policy & historical events; habeas corpus is a concept of the English/U.S. judicial system through which prisoners have a right to a court determining the legality of their detention (the right of the state to hold their body). The extent the teacher delves into these concepts depends on age, interest, and prior knowledge of students.

Guided Practice:

Teacher will lead the class through a reading of the poem Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? by Alexander Baron. Options include around-the-world reading by stanza, cloze reading led by teacher, a guided reading by teacher, or a responsive reading with teacher and student(s) alternating stanzas. If students have prior knowledge of rhyme scheme, that can be reinforced now, or it can be used to teach rhyme scheme as well. This is also a good poem to teach or reinforce irony, depending on the level/prior knowledge of students.

Teacher will model for students how to answer the first question on the worksheet accompanying the poem (attached). Then students will be instructed to “stop and jot” their answers to the remaining questions, and teacher will review answers with the class. Alternatively, students can work in partners to complete the questions.

Independent Practice:

The students will now work independently on the following project (attached). Students must choose one of the categories of “Watchers” that the class identified during the warm-up. They must complete a graphic organizer wherein they (1) explain the importance of that particular watcher in contemporary US society; (2) explain the risks associated with empowering that watcher; (3) design a solution wherein the watcher would be watched, or held accountable.


Students will return to the survey they took at the start of class, will re-rank their answers, and will explain any changes (or lack of change) to their response based on the class activities/discussions.

To view and download the rest of the lesson plan, click here.