Before winter break, the Grade 5 students commenced their new unit of inquiry under the PYP transdisciplinary theme of ‘How We Organize Ourselves’. The central idea for this unit is ‘Governments and organizations can promote and deny human rights.’
As part of the provocation for this unit, the students were exposed to three different forms of governance through classroom simulations. These included: Anarchy, Democracy and Dictatorship. Mr. Jason Russell, one of the Grade 5 homeroom teachers became Commandant Russell, proclaimed the laws of his republic and that nothing short of complete and total compliance with his rule would be acceptable. Anything less than this would be met with grave consequences, including exile.
The benefit of these classroom simulations is that it allows students an insight, no matter how brief, into what life is like living within these forms of governance. Although it is somewhat tempered for our young audience, the message is clear that each form of governance has its own distinct characteristics.
In addition to this, for some of our students it prompted further discussions with family members at home about their experiences living under different forms of governance. The benefit of this is that it allows students to make deeper connections with what we are learning about in the classroom environment and have a broader understanding of how, sometimes, the actions of a small few can have a profound impact on many.
It was very strange and realistic, but it was a great life experience because it put me in a situation where I experienced the perspective of people who lived through this.
I really liked it because once we finished it I got to tell my parents and they told me how their life was when there was a real dictatorship going on in Romania.
When Mr. Russell went out (of the classroom), he was normal. But, when he came back he shouted at us to sit at our desks and told us the new rules and laws. It was scary, but as soon as I knew we did nothing wrong, it turned out really interesting.