Thursday, 19 February 2015

Social Studies - Society Experiment

After yesterday's reflective post about how I taught in the unit and those creative ways of learning - I was thinking about upping my game in Social Studies.

I'd planned on continuing the film Schindlers List but with the sheets for curtains and the wonderfully bright sun streaming through the curtains we actually do have on one side of the class - it's an absolute mission at the moment. Let alone the projector issues..

So the first five students began moving desks into groups of four and five. The rest of the class helped and then I had them all stand in a circle. The first five and a couple extra who I watched during the table moving and also the boy who had incorrectly assumed about the use of Whakarongo were made leaders of the tables. Once the students had been put into different groups (all separated from their mates - well mostly) I had the leaders come to me to grab two sheets of A3 paper and the rest needed to get coloured pencils etc. 

This is what they had to do:
1. Team Name
2. Society Rules - at least three
3. Draw 10 stick figure people
4. Choose jobs and careers for each one of those people
5. Draw a loaf of bread, a car and a house
6. Assign prices for each of those three things
7. Draw three faces of leaders in their societies, facial features included

Once the setup was ready - this is what happened - without the full conversation.

A. The leaders have decided that they will be the only ones to create any rules. So cross all of your rules out.
B. A supposed accident has killed one of the leaders. Choose one leader and cross them out.
C. The price of bread has increased by 200%. Calculate how much that now increases all three items. (Inflation)
D. As a result of inflation, four of your stick people die from starvation and or unemployment as cost of living rises. Houses and cars are sold for next to nothing. Cross four people out.
E. Now the two leaders are working towards the election. The people need someone who will lead them out of this mess. One leader is a fabulous speaker and promises them the world. The other leader is known to help and could help but is not as effective in the running for election. Cross out one leader. Now you have one leader who tells you all the rules and mandates everything that society does.
F. As a result of these new rules the leader has created, any person who will not bow down to the decrees of the new leader must also be crossed out. Most likely jobs to cross out are: teachers, historians, police and lawyers who will challenge the leader. If you have any person that looks like they may not follow orders, cross them out.
G. In the new society, only essential people are allowed to survive. Builders, soldiers, electricians, doctors. Cross everyone else out.
H. Ask students how many people they have left. Circle two people and draw a small circle above their heads. They are more casualties of the leaders new rules.

Once we got to this stage, silence was all that was left. They realised they had noone else to play the game with as some students had one stick figure person left, others had a couple.

While they were writing down ten things they learnt as a group during the experiment, I walked around with a tin of lollies for the leaders and others who had worked hard during the experiment. I couldn't bring myself to add that they were the leaders in the experiment and although I was rewarding their good work - in essence, it was like rewarding bad behaviour for theoretically killing their stick figure people.

I had gone into the whole process hoping to show them that leaders do what they want. The effect of what happened throughout the lesson was amazing. By the end I was a bit lost as to how to connect it all - when I realised that not one student said no to me. They just blindly continued doing what I told them to do. This in itself was what I told them. The fact that they did not say no. They did not disagree with me and instead did everything I said. At some point I could have told them to cut up their work and they probably would have. Because they believed in the authority and the fact that they believed me showed that they were willing to follow me and my instructions (orders).

The connection very quickly happened for them once they realised they hadn't stopped or hadn't once said no. While pointing out the fact that they did not even try to save any of their 10 stick figure people - they saw the correlation with the situation in NAZI Germany.

Students reflected on the experiment and noticed how they didn't resist my 'orders' for each task.

Their reflections are beginning to show an understanding and awareness of other peoples situations. I'm incredibly impressed by this class.

Am so stoked I was able to bring back a tiny bit of old me today. Felt so good. Such a good lesson.

Despite the Holocaust being such a horrendous topic to learn, I think that it has hooked this class into their learning and understanding of what social studies is.

Slowly those who extend themselves by themselves are showing me that extension is important but if you have the passion to find out information on your own then you're more likely to develop a deeper awareness of the overall issues.