Civics Education Curriculum Snapshot:
UNIT 2: WHO CAN VOTE?
Experience the undemocratic nature of the early post- Revolutionary War government. [Refer to our free curriculum for support materials, to assign identities for your students.] This activity gives students kinesthetic experience to understand who was included or excluded in the democratic process right after the War. Ask all students to imagine themselves as participants or War observers, at the end of the American Revolutionary War. Explain that they fought and worked hard to achieve freedom from the British. They are excited about their newly established democracy!
- Have all students stand up and show how excited they are for this democracy. They can shout “Democracy is great!” We love democracy!” “We all fought to be free!” and other exclamations about democracy. Once they are all engaged, stop your exclamations and say: “Oh, wait a minute…this democracy is only for men. So if you are not a man, please sit down.” Enforce this rule by having all females take a seat.
- Continue the democracy excitement with the remaining standing students. Stop again and say: “Oh, hold on…this democracy is only for people of European descent. If you or someone in your family came from Africa, or you are Hispanic or Native American, or any other group not from Western Europe, please sit down because this democracy is not for you.”Enforce this rule by having all students not “of European descent” sit down.
- Continue the excitement then stop again and say: “Oh, we’re not done. This democracy is only for people who own property. Unless you own land or a house and have proof please take a seat.” Enforce this rule by having all students sit down (unless, of course, they have proof of land ownership!).
Once all students are sitting down, explain that the early government excluded large groups of people from voting in elections and other decision‐making processes. Have students discuss: -How did it feel to be excluded even though they were in the war and everyone was affected by it? -Why do they think these groups were excluded? -How would the young country have been different if their votes and voices had been included?
Details for this lesson and more in the Civics Education Lessons linked above!