The flip-flops, tropical drinks, and sun loungers have been put away. The sensible shoes, water bottle, and ergonomic desk chair are back. The new school year is here, and it’s time to get your students excited about learning!
To get you started, the International Day of Democracy on September 15th offers an ideal way to engage your new class through class discussion. This year’s theme is the importance of media freedom to democracy and peace. You can teach students about democracy whilst getting them talking!
Holding democratic discussions with your students
Holding a democratic discussion is an ideal way to teach students about democracy. Instead of dissecting sensitive and controversial issues in an inflammatory way on social media, students learn to discuss a range of issues respectfully in the safe space of the classroom.
Teaching students about democracy encourages civic engagement and helps them develop positive habits for life. With practice, students will become active citizens, helping democracy to flourish.
Using Kialo Edu to teach about democracy
Kialo Edu has a vast array of debate topics to engage students in democratic discussions with their peers. And to help students develop a deeper understanding of democracy, why not use one of our discussions on the topic itself? Here are some that we’ve handpicked to kick things off.
Is democracy a good form of government?
Telling students that democracy is a good form of government is not a very democratic approach! Instead, engage them in this discussion, asking them to explore the features of democracy and its alternatives. Allowing students to draw their own conclusions on different forms of government will make their opinions more meaningful, and encourage future civic participation.
Are different religions compatible with democracy?
Albert Einstein said: “Those who believe that religion and politics do not mix, understand neither.” Use these discussions with your “future Einsteins” to explore whether Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are compatible with democracy.
To go further, create your own discussion asking students to consider whether any other world religions are compatible with democracy.
Social media has become the preferred communication method among students. So, why not make the most of your students’ expertise to have them discuss whether having instant access to a range of diverse opinions is a benefit or threat to democracy?
Social media has also made it easier for politicians to reach the public. As part of the discussion, students can explore the positives and negatives of social media use in election campaigns.
Hopefully, your students will benefit from participating in this discussion on democracy and reflecting on their own social media use.
Does traditional media help or hinder public understanding of political issues in the US?
Bring in the theme of this year’s International Day of Democracy through this discussion. Start by asking your students about the last newspaper they read or the last radio news broadcast they listened to. Prepare for a tumbleweed moment!
Once students are familiar with traditional media, ask them to discuss whether “traditional” equates to “reliable”. Does being exposed to a wider range of stories than on digital devices improve understanding of political issues, or do the powers behind traditional media use it to further their own agendas?
Once the discussion starts, the only tumbleweed will be outside, not in your classroom!
Is the right to privacy more important than the freedom of the press?
Your students may be prepared to do anything for five minutes of fame, but have they considered the potential costs? Prince Harry has had his say on this issue and now it’s the turn of your students!
Students can discuss whether privacy and freedom are compatible in the media, as both are considered basic human rights. Do students believe that press freedom is a pillar of democracy, and journalists should have the right to report on all matters of public interest, whatever the cost? Or, do they think that the press manipulates the idea of public interest making privacy rules essential?
We hope these discussions give your students the confidence to participate in democracy and become active citizens of the future! In the interests of democracy, we would like to hear your views on these discussion topics and how you use them in your classroom! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via Facebook or Twitter. Best wishes for the new school year!