lesson focus

  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Understanding, tolerance and inclusion

expectations and goals

  • Students to understand Australia as a democratic society and what that entails
  • Students to identify the connection between freedom and democracy

learning experiences

Classroom Ideas

  1. Write ‘Democracy’ in the middle of the board. Conduct a brainstorm with the students about what democracy means to them.Democracy is defined by Dr John Hirst in A Guide to Government and Law in Australia as, ‘Government by the people, either by them directly, or through elected representatives. Also a form of society which favours equal rights, freedom of speech, a fair trial and tolerates the views of minorities’.
    As citizens we have democratic rights. This means that we all have social equity.
  2. Explain to the students that it is said Australia is a democratic society. Pose the question, “What does this actually mean?” and discuss with the class. Ensure to focus on values such as freedom, responsibility, justice, respect for the land, leadership qualities, personal values and qualities, and tolerance, inclusion and diversity. Link the discussion back to Crime Stoppers campaigns such as ‘Empowerment’ which encourages responsibility and justice.
  3. Mark three places in the room. One with ‘Democratic’, ‘Undemocratic’ and one ‘Undecided’. Provide each student with Democratic or undemocratic cue cards (Resource 9 below) and explain they will need to decide individually in which place they would put the card.
    Explain to the students that they can write their own names on each of the cue cards or it can remain anonymous.The cue cards can by read by each student or the teacher then placed in the correct corner by the student.Ask students why they think you gave them a choice about being anonymous. Link the discussion to Crime Stoppers and the ability for reporters of crimes to remain anonymous. Pose
    the following questions to the students and discuss as a whole class:

    1. Why do they give people a choice to remain anonymous?
    2. Why don’t they make people put their names down?
    3. By looking at all decisions are we a democratic society?
    4. Do all these cues match with our original definition of democracy?
    5. Is it good to have a democratic society?
    6. Is our school a democracy?
    7. Why/why not?
    8. In what ways could our school improve on democracy?
  4. Organise students into pairs and ask them to go to the Discovering Democracy Units on the Civics and Citizenship Education website
  5. Allocate one of the 17 sub-titles to each pair. Ask students to read their paragraphs and select its key points to relay back to the class as a jigsaw activity.
  6. Ask students to design a storyboard, poster or scenario representing democracy in Australia. This should link to the values that are important to Australia and also the crucial elements of a democratic country.
  7.  Provide students with access to What freedom means to me (Resource 10 below) and ask them to complete. Pose exploratory questions such as, “Have your freedoms changed? Are some aspects of freedom more important than others?”
  8. Ask students to research each of the concepts listed below and find as many songs and poems that portray these messages:
    • Freedom
    • Responsibility
    • Justice
    • Respect for the land
    • Leadership qualities
    •  Personal values and qualities
    • Tolerance, inclusion and diversityCollate a list of all of the songs and poems that the class found. Pose questions such as, “Why do people write about these issues? Does it make them more popular in society if they voice their own opinions?” and discuss as a whole class.

Focus questions

  1. What is a democracy?
  2. Why do we have one in Australia?
  3. What are democratic values?
  4. What’s so good about democracy?
  5. Why don’t they make people put their names down when voting?
  6. By looking at all decisions are we a democratic society?
  7. Is our school a democracy?
  8. In what ways could our school improve on democracy?
  9. Have your freedoms changed as you get older?
  10. Are some points of freedom more important than others?
  11. Why do people write songs and poems about social issues?
  12. Does it make them more popular in society if they voice their own opinions about social issues?

assessment tasks

Students to:

  1. Design a storyboard, poster or scenario representing democracy in Australia

download resources and tools

Printable lesson plan [Download Year 8, Lesson 4 plan]

Resource 9: Democratic or undemocratic cue cards [Download Resource 9]

Resource 10: What freedom means to me [Download Resource 10]

Additional resources:

Museum of Australian Democracy website

Discovering Democracy Units on the Civics and Citizenship Education website