Unit

Standing Up for Democracy

History
Civics/Citizenship
Social Studies

Introduction

“Society is a home we build together,” writes Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. “Making something together breaks down walls of suspicion and misunderstanding.”1 In recent years, however, a politics of difference has heightened suspicion and misunderstanding and threatened the ideals of liberal democratic society. This scheme of work is designed to inspire students to stand up for their democracy, and to help foster in them the critical thinking, mutual respect, and toleration necessary to renew the common enterprise of maintaining and sustaining a society together.

These 15 lessons, designed for use in classrooms in the United Kingdom, explore ideas and historical events that have global resonance. They are grouped together into four themes that are central to the mission of Facing History and Ourselves and at the heart of the process of bringing about a more humane, just, and compassionate society rooted in democratic values:

  1. The Individual and Society: The first four lessons explore the complexity of each of our multifaceted identities as students examine the essential question: What is identity? What makes each of us who we are?
  2. We and They: The next five lessons prompt students to grapple with the ways we tend to divide ourselves at every level of society, and how “in” and “out” groups tend to minimise the complexity of our identities by elevating in importance single characteristics around which we differ. Students consider the essential questions: How do our beliefs about difference influence the way we see and choose to interact with others? How do others’ beliefs about difference shape the way they see and choose to interact with us?
  3. Understanding Human Rights: These two lessons ask students to consider the idea, essential to democratic societies, that we are all entitled to a set of fundamental rights regardless of our differences. Students consider the essential questions: What is a right? What rights should belong to every human being on earth?
  4. Choosing to Participate: In the final four lessons, students analyse examples of civic participation and standing up to hatred and injustice—the types of actions that are the lifeblood of a democracy—and consider the power of their voices and actions in shaping their society. In these lessons, they respond to the essential question: What must individuals do and value in order to bring about a more humane, just, and compassionate society?

Before teaching these lessons, it is important to read more about Facing History’s pedagogy, teaching strategies, and how this unit is structured.

Get Prepared to Teach This Scheme of Work in Your Classroom

Citations

  • 1 : Jonathan Sacks, The Home We Build Together (New York: Continuum, 2008), 14–15.

Lessons and Assessments

Lesson 1 of 15
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Understanding Identity

Students consider the question "Who am I?" and identify social and cultural factors that shape identity by reading a short story and creating personal identity charts.

Lesson 2 of 15
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Transcending Single Stories

Students reflect on how stereotypes and "single stories" influence our identities, how we view others, and the choices we make.

Lesson 3 of 15
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Why Little Things are Big

Students reflect on the power of being labeled and use Jesús Colón’s essay to reflect on their own experiences of being misjudged.

Lesson 4 of 15
Democracy & Civic Engagement

The Challenge of Confirmation Bias

Students define confirmation bias and examine why people sometimes maintain their beliefs in the face of information that contradicts their understanding.

Assessment

Topic

Democracy & Civic Engagement
Step 1:

The Individual and Society

Students explore their identities through a mask-making project.

Lesson 5 of 15
Democracy & Civic Engagement

The Costs and Benefits of Belonging

Students learn about group membership and explore the range of responses available to us when we encounter exclusion, discrimination, and injustice.

Lesson 6 of 15
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Responding to Difference

Students explore a poem by James Berry about the ways we respond to difference and complete a creative assignment about their school or community.

Lesson 7 of 15
Democracy & Civic Engagement

When Differences Matter

Students consider what happens when one aspect of our identity is privileged above others by society.

Lesson 8 of 15
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Blending In and Standing Out

Students use an excerpt from Sarfraz Manzoor memoir to reflect on identity, belonging, and wanting to feel invisible.

Lesson 9 of 15
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Defining Our Obligations to Others

Students are introduced to the concept of universe of obligation to better understand how societies create "in" groups and "out" groups.

Assessment

Topic

Democracy & Civic Engagement
Step 2:

We and They

Students work collaboratively to create illustrated children’s stories that explore issues of conformity and belonging.

Lesson 10 of 15
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Defining Human Rights

Students create a definition for right in order to explore the challenges faced by the UN Commission on Human Rights to create an international framework of rights for all human beings.

Lesson 11 of 15
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Making Rights Universal

Students analyze four rights in the UDHR and decide whether they are universal and enjoyed by all in the world today.

Assessment

Topic

Democracy & Civic Engagement
Step 3:

Understanding Human Rights

Students work collaboratively to create a School Declaration of Human Rights Infographic.

Lesson 12 of 15
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Standing Up to Hatred on Cable Street

Students study the Battle of Cable Street in London by examining testimonies of individuals who demonstrated against fascist leader Oswald Mosley.

Lesson 13 of 15
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Public Art as a Form of Participation

Students analyze the Battle of Cable Street Mural and reflect on the role of public art to commemorate, educate, and build community.

Lesson 14 of 15
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Protesting Discrimination in Bristol

Students use the historical case study of the Bristol Bus Boycott to examine strategies for bringing about change in our communities.

Lesson 15 of 15
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Speaking Up and Speaking Out

Students analyze a spoken word poem about bullying and consider how they might use their voices to call attention to injustice in their schools or communities.

Final Assessment

Topic

Democracy & Civic Engagement
Step 4:

Choosing to Participate

Students have an opportunity to explore one issue in-depth and to create an action plan that inspires change in their schools or communities.

Search Our Collection

Everything you need to get started teaching your students about racism, antisemitism and prejudice.