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Conceptual Humanities Unit Final Lesson


Kevin Buss

Start of Discussion: The day before the debate, teachers will conduct a secret ballot to determine ideological lines of students, with the choices Would prefer to debate For Proposition 8, Would prefer to debate Against Previous Day Proposition 8, and Would be Ok with debating either side. Teachers will then try and form teams around ideological lines, with leaders who are mature and respectful, but will also have enough charisma to ensure their team-mates will also be mature and respectful. Teachers will select moderators who will ask the questions, which will be submitted by the students along with their debate preferences. Teachers will filter questions and add their own if necessary. Lesson Instruction: Teachers will open with a short speech, reminding the students that this is the last day of the Freedom Unit, that their performance today should draw upon all the themes we have discussed throughout the unit, in particular, this last week focusing on marriage and sexuality. Teachers will remind the students that this debate is an assessment, and that each student is encouraged to speak and expected to contribute. That said, teacher will reiterate the definition of a debate; a formal discussion on a particular topic in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing viewpoints are put forward.- note: no use of the word argument. Teachers will review the rules of the debate: one side speaks at a time, and the other side responds; everyone must respect each other, no derogatory phrases or words are appropriate, neither are personal attacks acceptable as points. Students will debate Proposition 8: Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized. Sample questions teachers might submit for the moderators to read include: - Is marriage a religious or civil/secular issue? - Should this issue of marriage equality be decided at the state level or the federal level? - Many who do not support same-sex marriage do support civil-unions. Is there a meaningful distinction between the two terms, or are they essentially the same thing? - (To Proposition 8 supporters) Many argue that marriages apart from between a man and a woman violate certain religious values. Given that the U.S. Constitution stipulates a separation of church and state (1st Amendment), can the government restrict marriages based on these religious values? - (To Proposition 8 dissenters) The 1st Amendment establishes religious freedom, guaranteeing churches the ability to practice their doctrines without fear of interference. Would government-mandated freedom of marriage impinge upon the Constitutional freedom of religion?

5 minutes

35 minutes

10 minutes

Assessments/Checks for Understanding: After all the questions have been debated, teachers will ask for closing statements from each team, in addition to a summary of the main points of the opposing team, to be presented to the class. This will ensure that each student has a deeper understanding of both sides, and is not solely informed on one opinion- thus enabling them to better evaluate the question of same-sex marriage in depth.