The 2016 Presidential Election along with the selection of several other political offices takes place in just about 2 weeks. I am sure you have seen your share of political ads and maybe tuned into some of the debates. I hope you have done more than watched SNL to make your informed choice. I know politics can be a delicate subject for some to deal with especially in public. So of course I am going to ask you to dive right in and let's debate!
The idea of tonight's topic is not to show support for any candidate or political party, but rather discuss broad topics facing our nation and our ideas for bringing these conversations to life in our classrooms.
I used to teach about Hammurabi's code for a number of reasons. It was the first written law code which provided limitation to a ruler's power in that it gave the people the power to know the rules and expectations. And yes some would start a debate over this but let's get to the real power. It was a great example of the idea of justice. I would ask students if Hammurabi was a fair and just ruler but ask them to define these terms before they answered. It was an exercise in critical thinking and analytical skills.
The last part of the activity was to ask students to act as advisors to Hammurabi. I have included the questions I posed to students below. I will freely admit many of the activities that I used in this unit were found online and I applied them to my needs. One of the extensions I made was to ask students to apply these questions to today. Instead of Hammurabi, what advice would they give to the President? How or why would this advice be different?
Tonight we are going mix some of these questions along with examining how we can look at politics, elections and create a culture where debate is encouraged and students feel safe to share their opinions openly.
1) Keep my people happy and maintain stability here in Babylonia.
2) Let the people know that I am a fair and just ruler.
3) Reduce crime.
4) Guarantee fair wages.
5) Guarantee that citizens are treated fairly by trades people and professionals.
6) Guarantee that trades people and professionals get fair treatment.
7) Make sure that the slaves will not revolt.
8) Provide for the things that my people desire.
9) Relieve overcrowding.
10) Supply my magnificent armies with the materials they need and reward my generals and soldiers.
11) Find markets for our excess crops.
Get ready for your Prime Time Debate- What is your plan for America? How will you make this country the best it can be?
You can put on your teacher hat for these
Q1 What lessons or activities do you use for teaching about elections?
Q2 What lessons do you have for teaching controversial/current issues?
Q3 How can you incorporate political/social/environmental issues into real world activities for students?
Time to take off your teacher hat and share your own ideas. Be ready to discuss your answers.
Q4 What reforms would you make to the election process?
Q5 What are the most pressing issues facing America/World today?
Q6 Choose at least one of the issues you listed or those listed by others and share some things that can be done to improve the current situation. (Notice I didn't say solve because some issues are too large to wipe out)
Pulling from the Hammurabi activity - here are some things that our leaders need to address. I know 140 isn't enough to solve any of these but hopefully it builds dialogue. We want the same for our students- hear other peoples ideas and contribute to the conversation.
Q7 Education is seeing a reduction in the federal, state, and local budgets what reforms need to be made to to ensure students still receive high quality education?
Q8 In the wake of so much turmoil in our society especially toward minority groups, what would you do to guarantee that citizens are treated fairly?
Q9 The nations of the world all exist in very different standards of living. The United States is one of the wealthiest, yet over 42 million live in poverty. What can be done to guarantee fair wages and improve the standard of living for those in need?
Additional Topics that might be considered-
America's role in international affairs
Reduction of Crime
If you there there are other questions I should ask -please share in the comments below or connect with me on Twitter.