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Focus question 6: What makes a good law?

Teaching and learning activities

Activity 1: Testing the law (30 min) ESL Activity 1
Assessment ESL Assessment
Activity 2: Future forum (50 min) ESL Activity 2

Activity 1: Testing the law (30 min)

1a Test the class law for a day or week then discuss:

  • Does our law work?
  • Is our law a good one? How do we know?
  • What specific features make it good/bad?

1b Students each develop their own checklist by which they can test whether the class law is a good one.

Handout 15

1c Distribute Handout 15 and ask students to record their checklists on the sheet. They should check each point on their list with a tick if their class law satisfies that criterion or a cross if it does not. They should then complete the questions at the bottom of the sheet.


Handout 8 provides a model for a checklist.

Collect student checklists and explanations and assess using the following criteria. The student can:

  • identify the principles of fairness and equality
  • support a process that is open and public
  • support arguments with reason.

Activity 2: Future forum (50 min)

2a Briefly discuss the following scenario.

We are time travellers who have travelled into the future to the year 2101. We look around for a while, but decide that we don't much like what we see - for a start, there don't seem to be any people for miles around this lonely town. All scouting parties return to the time machine - or at least the place where we thought we had left our time machine. The time machine has disappeared.

2b Call for student suggestions as to what may have happened to the time machine or to the people living in 2101.

2c Time passes and although we have food, shelter, and know how to survive in this unfriendly place, we all desperately want to find a way to get back home. Until we do there are some urgent problems to solve here in the future. We all decide that we need to make some laws to live by.

Do we need laws? What might be some reasons?

2d As a whole group, discuss the sorts of laws needed. Students can make creative laws and imagine any scenario.

2e Form working parties to draft some laws for life in the future. Divide the class into groups of four travellers. Each group can consider laws from the point of view of one of the following:

  • elderly time travellers
  • time travellers under 15
  • female time travellers
  • male time travellers.

2f Groups prepare a one-minute class presentation. They can use slogans, placards, speeches, posters, or jingles to promote one of their laws. Students must decide on a role for everyone:

  • main speaker
  • sign bearer
  • supporters (to perform a jingle or chant).

2g Groups perform for the class.

2h Bring the class together and summarise the reasons for law-making used in the scenario activity. Point out that the scenario was a fictional activity, and ask students to review the list and consider whether we will really need laws in the future.

ESL activities

Back to 'Rules and Laws - At a glance'

AcknowledgementsLegal Information