Defining Democracy for Secondary Students

If you’ve read a few of my posts, you’ve probably picked up I think students knowing their civic roles and responsibilities is vital. We live in an era where there is too much tension and hatred – of other races, religions, ‘cultures’…. and mostly because people are not educated about things that matter!

It is so important that students understand how a democratic system works and what their place in it is. It is important students know that we are part of a global community and our actions, no matter where we are in the world, can affect others very far away.And of course, its important for students to have fun while learning it.

This week, we decided to hold a mock election. It was a wonderful success with students having fun and collaborating beautifully but also coming up with some fantastic ideas. This is a perfect end of term filler for when tests are done and one can afford to stretch out a topic for as long as it needs- activities like this tend to take on a life of their own

Lesson 1: Democracy vs Dictatorship

I used this great power point here to cover the basic differences between living in a democratic nation vs living in a dictatorship. Students, of course, have heard a lot about North Korea in the news lately so this led to a great discussion about dictatorial nations and whether other, democratic countries have the responsibility so help them. And if so, which country should be the most responsible?

Lessons 2: Forming a Political Party

Students were split into groups (political parties) and I explained that they would be running for student leadership at our school. We don’t have a student council at our school yet so we just did this as an exercise in democracy. However, this is a great opportunity to chat to your HOD or Principal and use this is proper democratic election where elected students get to represent the student body and try to make their campaign promises happen.

I then used a power-point to go through what a political party is, how political parties appeal to voters and what the purpose of a manifesto is- using the English Labour and Conservative Parties as examples. Students were then given their official task which is embedded in the power point. You can view the resource (“Let’s get the political party started”) and download for free at my TES shop here

Lessons 3 and 4: Developing a Manifesto and Campaign Poster

This is when the fun really begins! Students had to come up with a manifesto and campaign poster that includes their name, slogan, symbol and campaign promises.

They then had to present their posters to the class, focusing on effective group presentation and incorporating all their party members. After this lesson, we hung up the campaign posters for the class to read and consider for a day or two.

Lesson 5: The Vote!

Last of all, of course, is the vote!







We created a full election situation where students voted secretly using ballot papers. Afterwards, of course, we had a post election party where the winners were congratulated and everyone respectfully applauded each other’s efforts.

This lesson plan was created on a bit of a whim but it worked fantastically and I will definitely do it again!

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