TITLE: Planning a Government AUTHOR: Jeff Norris, Sparks High School, NV GRADE LEVEL/SUBJECT: 9-12, government OVERVIEW: At the beginning of the year of a government class, students are amazingly ignorant about just what government is and does, even though they are confident that they can, indeed, define government and its functions. This activity relates directly to that situation. PURPOSE: This activity is used during the first week of school in a required high school government class, to help the students begin to become familiar with the nature of government, and with one another. OBJECTIVES: As a result of this activity, the students will: 1. List at least fifteen purposes to any government. 2. Hypothesize about the connection between type of governmental system and type of economic system. 3. Explain the difference between foreign and domestic policy and give examples of the functions or goals of each. 4. Write a paragraph, based on this activity, answering the question, "What is government?" Secondary objectives include: 1. Breaking the ice among classmates by having this activity done within groups of four or five students. 2. Beginning to demonstrate the importance of terminology, since students probably will have to resort to glossaries and dictionaries to attempt answering the questions. 3. Creating anticipation on the part of students for the multitude of topics to be covered in government class. ACTIVITIES AND PROCEDURES: About the second or third day of class, without advance notice, arrange the class into cooperative learning groups of four or five students each. Give the groups a short description of a fictional (or real) country facing some distinct domestic and international difficulties. Then, tell the groups that they are now the ruling oligarchy for this country, and that they must: 1. Devise a political system. 2. Structure an economic system to allow for the development of the state. 3. Decide who will vote, if anyone. 4. Decide how law and order will be maintained. 5. Sketch the broad outlines of a foreign policy. 6. List the priorities for domestic policy goals. (A sample of this is attached.) Allow the students to work on this for a couple of days. Play dumb when they ask questions, so as to force them to become resourceful in finding answers through reference materials and getting acquainted with their textbook. For example, some students will probably happily tell you that their government is going to be socialism. You need merely respond that socialism is not a governmental system, and smugly walk away, leaving it up to them to find out what you meant. At the conclusion of the group work, read each group's responses and allow for open discussion of them. Do not evaluate them yourself, but rather ask questions leading to the formulation of questions or ideas on the part of the students. Play by ear. It is useful to end by summarizing the various topics related to this activity that are necessarily a part of the government course of study. TYING IT ALL TOGETHER: As described above, through class discussions. Sometimes it is also useful to take the group papers and annotate them. Note vague terms, fallacies of reasoning in what will probably be some simplistic answers to the questions, and so on, and then return the papers the next day. Allow some time for students to discuss the annotations, but it is generally a good idea not to grade them. PLANNING A GOVERNMENT WORKSHEET Freedonia is an imaginary colony of Imperia. For the past ten years, there has been a widespread guerrilla war along the western frontier. The object of this war is to achieve independence, which is now scheduled for January 1st. For the last six months, black leaders have been gradually taking over most of the country's administration. This has been followed by a flight of skilled whites. The Imperians have controlled Freedonia since the 1500's. Many of the white families have lived in Freedonia for more than 100 years. Most of the people speak Imperianese. Five different tribes are represented in the country. These tribes generally speak their own language and practice different religions. About 25 percent of the people are Christian. Thirty-one percent are Moslem, and the others practice native religions. During recent years, relations among tribes have been strained because one tribe, the Ino, controls most of the important administrative positions even though they make up only 21 percent of the population. Most Freedonians are very poor. The per capita income is only $156. The primary industry is agriculture. The major exports are cotton, coffee, cloves, and cashew nuts. Many of the large plantations are foreign-owned, and there is substantial foreign investment in other industries as well. Little heavy industry has been developed, although the Imperians have built two large automobile assembly plants during the past five years. Freedonia has an area of 52,000 square miles (136,500 square kilometers). It has a population of 8,300,000 and has a high birth rate. About 85 percent of the people live along coastal lowlands and in the Naja River basin. The capital, Freedonia City, has doubled its population in the last five years. Freedonia shares borders with four other countries. One was formerly an Imperian colony and is ruled by a member of the Ino tribe. The other two are less friendly. One has received military and economic aid from the Soviet Union, which now has a large naval base there. The other is a country with which Freedonia has a longstanding boundary dispute. Instructions: You are to plan a government for Freedonia. Your plan should answer the following questions. Be sure to state the reasons you decided on a particular answer to these questions. a. What type of political system will you recommend? b. What economic system will allow the greatest development of the nation's potential, but provide benefits for all the people? c. Who will vote? d. Who will maintain law and order? How? e. What foreign policy should the government pursue? f. What domestic policies should the government give first priority to?
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