Students prepare a list of recommendations on how to reform the political system of a fictitious country so that it becomes a more effective democracy.
Set the context
Invite students to analyze the principles of an effective democracy by considering the following four options that might be used to select class representatives to attend school meetings dealing with school spirit, extracurricular issues and other school affairs:
- As the only adult in class, the teacher will make all the decisions affecting the class and will attend meetings on behalf of the class.
- Only girls will be allowed to vote in the selection process for class reps.
- All students, regardless of gender, race or ethnicity, will be invited to vote for the class reps.
- Only students who have completed all homework and have at least a B grade are allowed to vote.
Invite students to consider each option according to the principles of an effective democracy. Ask students to indicate by a method, such as thumbs up or thumbs down, whether or not the specific option aligns with each principle. Prompting questions could include:
- Is everyone treated fairly and their rights are respected? (justice)
- Is everyone treated with the same respect and provided the same opportunities? (equity)
- Are everyone's interests represented? (representation)
- Are basic human rights protected? (freedoms)
Ask students to reflect on which of the four options has the strongest alignment with the principles of an effective democracy. Ask them to determine which one of the four options needs the greatest change if they are to be allowed to participate in an effective democracy in a school. Ask students to reflect on how decisions that affect them are generally made in the school. Encourage students to share their responses with a partner and then invite them to discuss their responses as a whole group citing evidence to support their positions.
Examine a fictitious country seeking democratic reform
Provide students with the following scenario: The small country of Izpod is seeking to reform its political system to make it a more effective democracy. It needs your help. Provide each group with a fictitious profile of a country, such as Country of Izpod (Lesson Material). Alternatively, you may wish to use examples of actual countries.
Review the criteria for effective democracies
Remind students that each recommendation to improve democratic conditions must address elements of an effective democracy. Criteria could include:
- fair and equitable
- responsive to the people
- allows for citizen input in the decision-making process.
You may wish to have students complete activities described in Is Canada a Good Model of a Democracy? (Critical Challenge) prior to completing this challenge.
Write recommendations for democratic reform
Form groups of three or four students and ask them to prepare two recommendations that would improve the fictitious country's democratic system. Each recommendation must address at least one of the elements.
Ask students to record their recommendations on large sheets of chart paper and post them on classroom walls. Invite students to do a walk-about to review the recommendations made by other groups.
Add another recommendation
Ask the groups to reconvene and urge them to add one more recommendation based on the recommendations suggested by other groups. The additional recommendation should be one that would ensure that all criteria are met.
Pitch the recommendations
Ask each group to use information technologies to create media messages for the citizens of Izpod that promote the three recommendations and provide rationale for change.