This week I had the pleasure of attending Ms Alex Chan’s Year 10 Law class and was amazed by the scene that I encountered upon my arrival. The classroom was meticulously arranged to represent the lower house of Parliament, complete with member place cards, government and opposition benches, clerk, and speaker’s chairs. The student ‘representatives’ were sitting quietly in their rows, shuffling their papers and pens, deeply engaged in their scripts and enactment of the law-making process.
As I took my place in the mock press gallery at the back of the room, the Minister for Education cleared her throat and stood up to introduce the ‘Abolish School Uniform’ bill;
“Hhhmm…Mr Speaker, how often have families been promised a ‘free’ public education only to find themselves paying exorbitant bills for their child’s school uniform…”, she went on. After the general principals of the bill had been outlined, the speaker, with the perfect look of composure and control, called upon representatives from both sides of Parliament to speak their minds about the bill in question.
The member from Cooper stood up and spoke against the bill, stating that school uniforms were a powerful tool to minimise class-based bullying at school, to which a government backbencher immediately and passionately retorted that schools should be focused on the prevention of bullying behaviours, not on removing the elements that make children different. His point was met by raucous cheers of support from other members, their animation betraying just how much fun they were having in class today. After the speaker commandingly called the room to order, the house proceeded vote on the proposed bill- 14 for, 10 against. The government had the numbers; the bill was passed.
As I was leaving the students were shuffling around and getting ready to go around again for their second bill, ‘No homework’, having swapped roles and positions with each other. In their excitement to continue the roleplay, they did not even notice me congratulating them on a job well done- too immersed in the process.
Well done to all the Y10 Law students for applying themselves so fully to this task and participating meaningfully in the role play. Congratulations also to Ms Alex Chan on designing and narrating this incredibly engaging learning experience for her students. I saw at least 3 lawyers and politicians in the making and it’s inspiring experiences like this that set those fateful wheels in motion.
Mr Dane Stammers – Psychology and Commerce Teacher | Commerce Learning Area Leader