Below are the slides for the political spectrum lecture. Each point on the spectrum is briefly summarized:
Teaching very broad, abstract, concepts at the introductory level (Middle School) requires some degree of simplification before students can move on to a more complex and nuanced understanding (which will occur in our first formal research project TBA) and I have done such simplification here.
One of the activities that I often use to get students to consider their own state of knowledge is brainstorming. Brainstorming is a cognitive technique that is frequently employed in university seminars, corporate boardrooms and in k-12 classrooms to generate divergent thinking and alternatives to commonly held ideas or practices. Brainstorming is also the cornerstone of the many lateral thinking exercises of creative thinking guru, Edward De Bono.
(This slideshare is best viewed by clicking to go to the slideshare site and then clicking the full screen icon)
Unfortunately, according to Frans Johansson, author of The Medici Effect, research tells us that most brainstorming sessions are not as productive as they could be for the following reasons:
1. Insufficient time allotted and/or too low a quota of ideas to generate
2. Poor interpersonal group dynamics inhibiting participants from making contributions due to negativity, intimidation, apathy, intolerance or personal criticism
3. Starting with whole group idea generation rather than building upon individual brainstorming with extended whole group idea generation
4. Absent or ineffective facilitation that is risk-averse, unprepared or biased, that reinforces rather than breaks down tendencies toward ” groupthink”.
Brainstorming properly requires anticipation of associative conceptual barriers to be broken ( inevitably, somebody will say “You can’t do that”) or circumvented; motivated engagement by the participants; the devotion of adequate time and resources; and skillful management of group dynamics by the facilitator or teacher to keep groups moving forward, generating ideas.
With these cautions in mind, periodic brainstorming sessions can be a powerful tool to enhance creative thinking at school or in the workplace.
Charlie Chaplin parodying Adolf Hitler in the classic film, “The Great Dictator”
After reading an excerpt about the Cycle of Constitutional Revolutions by the Greco-Roman historian, Polybius, the students are starting to examine individual forms of government, starting with Tyranny. They will be studying both ancient and modern forms of dictatorship over the next few days in class.
Much like fellow comedic actor, Charlie Chaplin, the Three Stooges made films that mocked Hitler and Nazi Germany:
Thomas Hobbes, 1588 -1679 – saw life as ” nasty, brutish and short”.
Students are learning about forms of government in Social Studies. Critical to this is understanding the idea of government as the creation of a social contract made by the people of a nation.
John Locke, 1632 -1704 – Inspired the Founding fathers
Social Contract Theory was developed by English philosophers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke who lived through the turbulent period of 17th century Britain that saw the English Civil War, The Glorious Revolution and great social, religious and economic changes to English society. Together they discredited the theory of ” the Divine Right of Kings” and helped establish the trend toward modern democracy and individual liberty. In Locke’s case, he directly inspired many of the ideas in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
Both Hobbes and Locke agreed that man began in a state of nature and developed a social contract that created a government, and that the right to do so originated in natural law. Where they disagreed was over the importance of order vs. liberty. Hobbes thought that the government needed to be very strong, a ” Leviathan”, to keep order and prevent people from doing evil things. Locke believed that the government itself should be limited in it’s powers to prevent a tyrant from arising and doing evil things to the people; secondly, that the people had a “ Right of Revolution” to overthrow tyrannical governments.
America’s Social Contract as detailed in the Preamble to the Constitution: