Does Democracy Work?

img_1508This is a special edition eNewsletter designed to help learners think about the upcoming Glassen Essay (Does democracy work?), the recent US President’s inauguration, and about how we can carve out an argument effectively. This task is for all Grade 9 and 10 learners at the Met.

On Friday, as many of us watched at school, Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States of America. The following day, Saturday, people across the world protested — including in Winnipeg as evidenced by the above photo.

Both events speak to the state of democracy in both the United States and throughout the world. Our friends at KQED, a National Public Radio station in California, have asked students around the world to participate in a larger conversation about democracy. The Met School is part of a special pilot this week to try a new form of technology. We will be joining about ten other schools in the US.

This week’s KQED DoNow asks students to respond to the following question:

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We will be using FlipGrid as a means of responding to the question and to engage in a conversation with other students. This week’s FlipGrip Code is 71bfcc.Parents and guardians are encouraged to become involved in the conversation as well. Have fun, think hard, and be precise in your response.Sara’s advisory sent a bunch of questions related to democracy to Matt to see what he thought. Here is his response to those questions in podcast form:

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DoNow: Does Democracy Work?

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All Grade 9 learners at the Maples Met are being asked to consider the following question: Does democracy work?

This question arises from current affairs, namely the recent US election and the rise of Russia’s global power and influence. It also arises from the annual Glassen Essay Contest facilitated by the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics.

Recently, Canada has gone through a federal election and we have witnessed a provincial election here in Manitoba. Both of these elections offered points of discussion related to electoral reform and concepts such as first-past-the-post.

These recent events beg the question as to whether or not democracy actually works in 2016. What do you think? Does Democracy work?

To begin, we need to conduct some research and answer some guiding questions (and perhaps Crash Course can help begin the discussion):

What is democracy? What is the difference between democracy and liberal democracy? Is democracy just voting, or more? Here is a great opinion piece from Al Jazeera which looks at the state of democracy and also touches on some key concepts.

When and why democracy? Democracy has not and is not the norm. What is the history of the evolution of democracy? Here is a great BBC timeline of the continuity and change of democracy. Similarly, the Nobel Prize has a great map  will help us ground our thinking in history.

Here is a great article for the New York Times which looks at the stability and longevity of democracies. Also here is a fantastic interview conducted by Michael Enright of CBC’s The Sunday Edition with renowned political philosopher Michael Sandel. In this interview, Sandel speaks to the state of democracy.

Your final product will of course be a submission to the Glassen Essay Contest. In the meantime please comment below or via Twitter (using #DoNowDemocracy) to further our discussion and/or share resources.

You can add resources to the Padlet located here.