I would do this activity with my students to get them thinking about the government, its roles, and democracy. This would address the learning targets and topical questions regarding the ways in which different people view the government and democracy. Additionally, I could have students think about the viewpoint of different groups in the past, to get them thinking about how those that were oppressed (ie. African Americans) attained more rights and how they may have thought about the government.
Visible Thinking. (n.d.). Circle of Viewpoints: A routine for exploring diverse perspectives. Retrieved June 9, 2016, from Harvard Project Zero website: http://www.visiblethinkingpz.org/VisibleThinking_html_files/03_ThinkingRoutines/03e_FairnessRoutines/CircleViewpoints/CircleViewpoints_Routine.html
Sample Student Response:
Teacher: “Imagine you are an African American man in 1822 working on a farm as a slave. Your white master treats you poorly and you have tried to go to the government to get away from him. You are scared he may hurt your children and wife. You have told government officials about the ways your master has abused you and your family but the official tells you there is nothing he can do because you are black. Record on a sheet of paper what your opinion would be of the government and democracy. What would you do to gain more civil rights?”
Student: “I would be very angry and upset if I were the African American slave being treated unfairly. I would think that the government official was not being truthful and that there had to be something he could do. I would also be confused about why it was okay for the white man (my master) to treat me poorly just because of the color of my skin. I would be disappointed that the government only cared about and stood up for certain people. I would also feel scared because I wouldn’t have anyone to help me and defend me if my master did hurt my family or me badly.”