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Democracy can be creative

by Gordon Lamont

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To encourage creative thinking on democratic themes.

Preparation and materials

  • Note: This assembly was created to use in January 2014. If you are coming to this later, visit Parliament’s Education Service website (at: www.parliament.uk/education) for up-to-date news of competitions and awards.
  • Prime four or six students in advance to each speak briefly on one of the following motions that could possibly be put before Parliament.
    – The UK Parliament should move out of Westminster and be located somewhere more central.
    – It should be illegal to not vote in general elections.
    – The voting age should be reduced to 16.
    – The voting age should be reduced to 14.
    – School council members should be paid.
    – Politicians’ pay should be voted on by the public.
  • This assembly focuses on two of the UK Parliament’s public engagement activities with young people – you might like to look at these in advance:
    – Speaker’s School Council Awards at: www.speakersschoolcouncil.org
    – Lights, Camera, Parliament! at: www.makewav.es/lcp (see   www.makewav.es/story/485967/title/lightscameraparliament2013winners for examples of past winning entries – you could show this to the students in Step 2 below if you wish) – at the time of writing, the prizes have yet to be announced so check the website for details.
  • See also: 
    www.assemblies.org.uk/sec/1186/democracy-have-your-say, which explores the notion of democracy and having a voice
    www.assemblies.org.uk/sec/1141/on-democracy, which explores the concept of democracy and encourages students to vote
    – www.parliament.uk/education/teaching-resources-lesson-plans/school-debating-pack, for secondary debating resources
  • For further resources http://www.parliament.uk/education/teaching-resources-lesson-plans/magna-carta-assembly-plan/

Assembly

  1. Explain that there are two exciting opportunities in January to get involved with democracy in a hands-on and dynamic way – both run by our Parliament. Briefly introduce the Speaker’s School Council Awards, explaining that school council projects which have made a difference in schools or communities are eligible to enter. Big or small – it doesn’t matter; they just need to have led to positive change. The winners get to go behind the scenes in Parliament and meet the Speaker.

  2. Talk, too, about Lights, Camera, Parliament!, which has a filmmaking focus. Students are asked to make (or plan) a short film about a new law that they would like to introduce. 

    At this point, show one of last year’s winning films from the link given in the Preparation and materials section above, if using.

  3. Make the point that these are both creative opportunities to engage with democracy and democracy needs creative thinking if it is to grow and develop. There is an urgent need to encourage as many people as possible to use their votes and become involved in all sorts of democratic activities at all levels. 

    Say that you’re going to try some creative democracy now and ask your four or six students to each state their motion in turn and briefly speak on it.

  4. Take a vote on which of these motions is most likely to increase democratic engagement.

Time for reflection

What creative ways can you think of to improve engagement with democracy?

Can you put together a film idea about a new law you’d like to see?

Do you know of a school council project that you think deserves to win an award?

Can you personally become more involved in democratic decision-making?

Publication date: January 2014   (Vol.16 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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