Teaching Tools

Student Parliament

Divide students into three or more political parties. If they wish they can name their party and create a philosophy, but it isn’t necessary. Have each student create a “bill” (a policy proposal - a new law or a change to an existing law). Make a list of all of the bills from each party. Allow members of each party to look at the list of bills proposed by the other two parties. They must select at least half of those bills to oppose. Give students about ten minutes of preparation time in which to 1.) think about how they will defend their own bill, and 2.) think about how they will attack the bills which their party has decided to oppose. Once the preparation time ends, a parliamentary assembly begins. The instructor, acting as the speaker of the house invites the consideration of each bill in turn, with students making speeches in favor of the bill, and other students making speeches against the bill. When the speeches die out, each bill is voted up, or down. Depending on the sophistication of the students, you can follow parliamentary procedure (for example, allowing points of information, allowing bills to be amended, or tabled) or you can just loosely allow each bill to be fully debated before moving on to the next.