Though young people may groan whenever they hear the word school, teachers love it. We would not be teachers if we did not love teaching and learning, and school is the place where that happens, but sometimes our understanding of what school is differs from that of our students. When you want to challenge your students’ understanding of what school is and what it could be, try one of these discussion-based activities on school.
Try These Dynamic Discussion Based Activities on School & Education
Should School be Compulsory?
In 1647, Massachusetts passed the first law which made attending school compulsory. What do your students think about mandatory school attendance? Is it a good idea to make young people attend school? Break your class into small groups to discuss the topic and make a list of the advantages and disadvantages of school being compulsory. Then have the groups discuss what they would do if they were not in school. Have each group write a one-week schedule of the activities they would do if they did not have to attend school. Then give your students a chance to turn the tables and suggest an activity that would be compulsory for adults.
Should Schools be Single Gender?
Another controversial issue in the world of education is whether or not boys and girls should have separate schools. There is some evidence to suggest that girls perform better in all girl schools; the same does not seem to be true of boys in all boy schools. Divide your class into two groups – boys in one group and girls in another. Have each group discuss what it might be like to be in a school with only students of the same gender. What would be the same? What would be different? Would they like it or dislike it? Why? Have each person take some time to freewrite on the topic of single gender schools.
Should Schools Have Uniforms?
Ask your students to talk with a partner what they do to get ready for school in the morning. Working together, have the pairs make lists of what most people do to get ready for school and how long those activities take. What difference would it make in the morning routine if your students had to wear a uniform to school? Would they get ready faster? Would it take longer to get ready? Would they want to wear a uniform to school? Have your students do some reading on the pros and cons of school uniforms before dividing the class into two teams. Assign one team in favor of school uniforms and the other team against school uniforms. Then organize a debate between the teams. Each team should choose one representative to speak, and the other members of the team should help that person prepare her statements and defend herself during the debate. To run the debate, start with the pro side, and give the speaker five minutes to present her case. Then give the other side five minutes to present his case. After both opening statements, set three minutes for the teams to discuss what they will say in response to the opposing side. This time the con side goes first and gets three minutes for a rebuttal. After that, the pro side gets three minutes for her rebuttal. You may want to have several pairs of students debate the issue. After the debate, ask your students to comment on the arguments of both sides and cast their votes for a winner.
Should Schools Ban Junk Food?
Healthy eating is a major issue facing educators today. Should schools allow junk food to be sold and consumed under their roofs? Should students be given the freedom to decide what and how much they will eat? Have your students brainstorm a list of all the possible foods a student might eat or purchase at school, and then ask your students to divide that list into “healthy” foods and “junk” foods. Which list is bigger? Which list is more appealing? What qualities can identify any given food as junk food? Have groups of three students make a list of what qualities might classify a particular food as junk food. Then have the groups propose 5 foods to remove from the school menu and 5 new foods to introduce to the school menu. Once each group has made its decisions, have them present the changes in front of the class. After each group has taken a turn, ask the members of the class to vote for one of the food plans to determine whose strategy might be most successful.
School, though most young people go to it every day, is not the same for every person. There are controversial topics that every school must discuss and then take a side on.
With these activities, your students will gain a better understanding of what school is and what it could be, and they may even walk away with a greater appreciation for the school they have.
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