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Individual Rights & Freedoms

Context for this Lesson


FOCUS QUESTION: What are the responsibilities and rights associated with freedom?


I will be writing a word on the board and I would like to invite you all to brainstorm what words, feelings, and ideas you associate with them and share them with the class. Begin by writing the word Freedom on the far left of the board.
Write the responses and explore the answers with questions such as…
When you see the word freedom what thoughts come to mind?
Can you think of an examples of freedom?
Add the word Rights to the far right and repeat process
Finally add the word Government in the center and ask
When you see the word government what thoughts come to mind?
Can you think of an examples of how the government relates to freedom and rights? How does it support rights and freedom? How does it limit
freedoms and rights?

Thank you for your thoughts on these words, and I ask you to keep them in the back of your minds as we continue today.

SHARE info about topic:
Explain that today we will be focusing on the responsibilities of freedom, rights, and how the governments relationship to these. We are going to explore what kind of effect some types of government could have on a community on an issue we can all relate to right now: school. Invite students to become members of a community in trouble. In a town not unlike ours, the citizens have found that with all of the stress of the economy and employment being so low that we are questioning whether we are just not educating our students to the level they need in order to make it in the global job market. There has been a lot of pressure to keep up with educational standards of the rest of the world and in our community students are falling way below even national standards. Choose a name for your community. Ask students to imagine that they are citizens of this community that are in some way involved with the school. As a group ask them who might be at a school board meeting?

I would like you to all close your eyes for a moment and think about who you are and why you have come to this meeting. After they have had a chance to think invite them to open their eyes and begin.


Teacher in role (enters nervously): "Oh, you’re already here. Right, of course, it’s time for the meeting to start. Ladies and Gentlemen of (name of town) ) I am so pleased that you have come to join us tonight for the PTA meeting to discuss some very exciting news. I know you were expecting Susan Bisher, the president of the school board, to speak with you tonight but she had a pressing meeting and is unable to join us. I’m Sophie McDougal, her assistant. Ms. Bisher called you all together because it is time for us all address a concern that has been become more and more troubling to us all over the last several years and that is the quality of the education our children are receiving. Now we have tried instituting all sorts of policies and testing and better educating our teachers and we just can’t seem to the children on level we would like. However, technology has come to our rescue. Now this is such an honor, the government has selected our county to test drive this new commitment to academic excellence. The way it works is scientist have developed a new microchip to be placed in our children that basically makes them little hard drives of knowledge. Isn’t that just fabulous? Instead of trying to drill information into our children they can instantly have wealth of knowledge placed into them without any of the hassle of the school system.
The government has made it completely free of charge for all children under the age of fifteen in our county to be part of this study and I just wanted to let you all know that our children in the middle and elementary schools will have this short easy procedure taken care of right at school this next Wednesday. Okay? Alright? Great. Now I know there are some teachers and even a few students that are up past their bedtimes in here but if I could just see a show of hands of the parents that are in the room that are ready to sign this simple little form acknowledging that you have heard all about this new educational policy that you are ready to have your young eager mind ready for filling.
(pause) Um…I’m happy to answer any questions you have about this project. At least, those that I can answer. Any questions? And, please when you offer your question or statement please introduce yourself and what you do in the community. Ms. Bisher wanted me to take really good notes. Each student should introduce themselves and their profession. The leader should interact with each community member trying to “sell” them on the experiment. After community members are introduced, open the floor to discussion.
Possible Side-Coaching: The following information can be introduced during discussion:
-If you are against this you are more than welcome to move. Government will help fund your move.
-bring in topic of freedom and rights where possible in conversation
-negative side effects- decrease in creativity and imagination, really only gear children toward technology jobs
-positive effects, guaranteed placement when they are eighteen in high paying jobs… although not necessarily in this country

Transition: When issues are out in the open teacher should say: Well, it seems that we have opinions on both sides in the room. Unfortunately the government has already decided but just for the record I would like to take a vote. I will ask each person what their decision is and they may answer whether they have accepted this proposed solution or not. Each student makes their decision. Stop the dramai and step out of role.
Thank you so much for that great discussion. We are now our regular selves again classroom. Let’s think and talk about the situations we just experienced as our characters.


Describe: What did we just do? What were the problems we talked about?
Analyze: How did different characters feel about the changes being made? What were the advantages and disadvantages of this experiment? What rights and freedoms were we discussing and what rights/freedoms was this program threatening.
Relate: How did you feel about this proposed idea? If it were possible would you want this experiment conducted? Why or why not? Do you think the government should be allowed to suggest a study like this? Do you think the government should be allowed to require a study like this? Do you think the government could be allowed to suggest or require a study like this? How would this experiment affect you individual freedom or rights?
How does this relate to your own life? How can this be applied to your own school experience? How is a school like a government? Would it be considered a democracy like the US? Do schools have more or less power over its citizens then are government? How is this similar/different?