First we must see the context in which Buddhism arose. I like using a comparison between the times of the Buddha and our own age as a way to engage the students, so that they think about contemporary society and what it might have been like to be alive in the age of the Buddha.
First we look at six aspects of the "Age of the Wanderers" as it has been called, a time of great change and social transformation in early India.
Then we wonder about similarities between then and now. It's pretty amazing when we put these side by side. We are in an age of incredible change, just as the Buddha was 2500 years ago. Who are the modern Brahmanas and Shramanas?
If the students understand just this, and engage with it intellectually and imaginatively, the rest will flow like the waters of the Ganges...