Based on the data from the student survey we recently analyzed, I asked my year 7 HASS Class to write down ‘how do they know Mrs. Liebenberg cares for them?’
One of the students wrote: ‘Your class is awesome, but if you could teach HASS playing basketball, that would be great.’ I have never watched a basketball game in my life, let alone played the game, but I accepted the challenge.
A bill (proposed law) becomes a law if it is passed by a majority vote in the House of Representatives and the Senate. The bill must be agreed to, in identical form, by both chambers and given Royal Assent by the Governor-General. My son, Ben, came to my rescue with an idea based on the basics of passing a bill in Parliament:
“The thing you try to pass, the ball, symbolises the bill, mum”.
The class of 23 students elected ten students: eight players and two captains, based on how successful students thought the candidates would represent them in a game of basketball. (Representative Democracy). Each captain chose their team one member at a time. The non-players were given choices: to do the running commentary for the local radio station, write an article for the local paper (which students with strong language skills chose), be the referee, be the time and scorekeepers, or take photos.
The first game established the two houses. The loosing team’s captain (leader of the House of Representatives - the Government Minister) passed the ball to the winning team which became the Senate. The Senate team representing the states and territories had two extra players in the second game (stretching the analogy somewhat). After the second game, the leader of the Senate passed the ball to me, the Governor-General, as a representative of the Queen who gives the Royal Assent.
I held a basketball (prepared with a note) in each hand, each representing the positive or negative outcome for the bill the students tried to pass. The class chose a hand after arguing and agreeing upon which hand to choose (The bill being agreed upon in identical form by both chambers). They chose the ball in my right hand with the note reading: ‘In the name of Her Majesty, I do not assent to this Act. This is a bitter experience for you. Therefore, you shall eat bitter chocolate (90% cocoa) to leave a bitter taste in your mouth.’
A student read the note that was on the ball in my left-hand reading: ‘In the name of Her Majesty, I assent to this Act. Your bill has been passed through Parliament and is now known as an Act of Parliament. Therefore, you shall have sweet milk chocolate to remind you of your sweet victory.’
Back in the classroom students reflected on the analogy between the game and passing a bill through Parliament in letters to Ben. They thanked him for the lesson plan and some expressed the hope that he will have many more clever ideas like this one!
I decided to give them the milk chocolate anyway (like a benevolent dictator).