Discovering Democracy Units
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Focus question 1: What are the features of a healthy democracy?

Teaching and learning activities

Activity 1: The nature of democracy ESL Activity 1
Activity 2: Making a decision ESL Activity 2

Activity 1: The nature of democracy

1a As a whole class, brainstorm a list of the principles upon which democracy is based, for example the right to vote freely and elect representatives, and the right to freedom of speech.

1b Discuss your list, refine it, decide upon a final set of principles and write them in your workbook.

Stories1c Compare your list of principles with the list on the Stories of Democracy CD ROM. The principles you develop will probably seem clear enough, and we would all support those principles, and want them in our society. And once we have them we would not want to lose them.

Yet this has happened in the past. In 1932 Germany had many of these principles, and was a democracy. Human rights were protected in a Bill of Rights. But in 1933 a German government destroyed those democratic principles in that society.

Activity 2: Making a decision


You have just turned 18. You do not know much about politics, or who to vote for. A friend says, 'Hey, you should vote for the Youth Party. All of my group are going to!' You look at the papers and watch TV, and find out these things about the party:

  • The Youth Party says that they are a party for all young Australians.
  • They say that their number one priority is a job for everyone leaving school. That will really get Australia moving.
  • They say that the parties in the current system have failed young people and they point to the youth unemployment rate.
  • They say that there are too many migrants taking jobs and making money which they are sending back overseas.
  • Their leader has been in gaol for inciting mob violence during protests at Parliament House.
  • He blames migrants for crime, drugs and having excessive influence over the other parties.
  • He says that if people in Australia are not prepared to be good citizens and support the majority, then they will have to get out and go somewhere else: they should support Australia or get out!
  • He says that people are ready for a leader who is not afraid to take action.
  • He says that he will put Australian-born citizens first. We will not be pushed around.

2a List in your workbook three reasons why you might vote for the Youth Party, and three reasons why you might not.

2b Record your vote and keep it secret.

2c Working in a small group, prepare a brief campaign speech (about 30 seconds) in support of the Youth Party. Include slogans, policies, emotional statements, a symbol - anything you can to win support for the Youth Party.

2d In the same group, create a set of questions that an opponent might ask at a public meeting - questions that will really 'hurt' the Youth Party if they are asked, and which pick out their weaknesses.

2e Select someone to present your group's speech to the class.

2f After each group's speech, 'questions from the floor' (the questions you prepared in 2d) should be asked of the speaker by members of other groups.

2g Record your secret vote again. Would you still vote the same way as before?

2h Suppose that the Youth Party leader announces that if you vote them in, they will immediately outlaw all other parties, stop people from voting, and install the leader as dictator. In other words, they will cancel democracy in Australia. Would this change your vote? Vote again.

Understanding your actions

If you voted for the Youth Party at any of the three opportunities above you in fact voted to destroy democracy.

The first vote was rushed. It was made without much thought. The second vote was made after some information and deliberation, but still, perhaps, without full knowledge. The third vote was made when you realised exactly what the Youth Party stood for.

This is very similar to the situation in Germany in 1933. Someone was voted into power to destroy democracy. How could this have happened? Did it happen because of ignorance, or was it done in full awareness? And are there any lessons for us in Australia to learn from this situation?

ESL activities

Back to 'A Democracy Destroyed - At a glance'

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