Our first week back at Joyce Kilmer, we discussed democracy and the different types of democratic systems that exist around the world. We looked especially at direct and representative democracies and the differences and pros and cons of each. Many students were able to recognise the advantages and disadvantages of direct and indirect democracy before we had even discussed them as a class. For our activity, we applied what we had learned to our “island society.” The class was split into a number of groups and each group took the positions of different groups in society--teachers, farmers, religious, non-religious, etc. Each group had to discuss amongst one another which form of democracy, representative or direct, would be the most beneficial for their respective group. After a while, we came back as a whole and used a Speakers’ List for each to air their concerns and argue for their preferences. The students argued effectively for both systems and in the end, the class opted for a representative democracy.
For our second week, we continued on with our topic of democracy. This week we discussed four different styles of voting systems and the pros and cons of each. The four we discussed were: Plurality, Majority, Proportional, and Rank-Choice. After discussing the pros and cons of each, the students seemed particularly interested in rank-choice voting, given the advantage of fairness in the system. The following week, we reviewed the different systems and provided examples of interference in elections--Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, U.S. interference in other countries, and the issue of the 2018 election in Venezuela. The three topics discussed over the past three weeks culminated in an activity in which the students were divided into four groups and had to decide on three issues for their “district”: direct or indirect democracy, the type of voting system, and how to secure free and fair elections.