Lesson 10

Bec​oming a Critical Consumer

Help your students understand which issues are truly crucial to them. In this lesson, students will investigate what issues are most important to them and conclude by participating in a simulated election with fictional candidates.

Duration

55 minute class period

Description/Objective

Students will investigate and decide what issues are most important to them and conclude by participating in an election simulation of fictional candidates.

Oregon Standards

HS.35: Examine the pluralistic realities of society (e.g., race, poverty, gender, and age), recognizing issues of equity, and evaluating need for change.
HS.58: Gather, analyze, use, and document information from various sources, distinguishing facts, opinions, inferences, biases, stereotypes, and persuasive appeals.
HS.59: Demonstrate the skills and dispositions needed to be a critical consumer of information.

NCSS Standards

Theme V:  Individuals, Groups, and Institutions; X: Civic Ideals and Practices

Resources

  1. Teacher background handout Lesson 10
  2. Student handout (“Election Simulation Candidate Backgrounds”)
  3. Libertarian Party website: http://www.lp.org/
  4. Communist Party USA website: http://www.cpusa.org/
  5. Constitution Party of Oregon website: http://www.constitutionpartyoregon.net/

Activities/Procedures

  1. Students rank what individually they believe are the five most important issues to consider when choosing who to vote for? Why are these the most important? See teacher background handout for some issue examples to provide the students.
  2. Participatory Lecture
    1. Give background on political socialization. See teacher background handout for list and explanations of political socializers.
    2. Identify which political socializers influenced each of the 5 most important issues.
    3. Breakout groups (3-4 students): Discuss “b” and make a graph or pie chart.
    4. Class discussion about which issues and political socializers were the most common? Graph it as a class.
  3. Draw six columns on the board and label each with a factor that influences political socialization. Ask students for specific examples of how each factor can influence their opinions. Write students’ answers in the appropriate columns on the board. Discuss with students how they would rank each factor in order of importance.
  4. Election simulation based on “fictional” candidates and where they stand on the issues. Teacher should point out to students that on the handout there are a few “minor” party candidates with limited or no information of where they stand. This is to demonstrate their inability to get their message into the media due to a lack of financing. (Optional) Provide the URL addresses found in the teacher background handout for the Libertarian, Communist, and Constitution party to show students that information on “minor” party candidates is out there, but it is not as readily accessible as information on “major” party candidates without exploring the issues on one's own.

Extension Activities

Election simulation may be used as an extension activity.

Teacher Background Handout

Issue examples that may be of interest to students for beginning activity (not the only issues that may be of interest to them): abortion, campaign finance, county/state/federal budget, crime, diversity, drugs, economy, education, environment, family, financial aid for college, food safety, gas prices, gay/lesbian/bisexual, guns, health care, housing, immigration, jobs, religion, retirement, social security, taxes. 

Types/Agents of Political Socialization

  1. Family/Home Influence: As adults, more than two-thirds of all voters continue to favor the political party their parents supported.
  2. Schools: Most influential, after family, due to a child’s extended exposure to a variety of political beliefs.
  3. Peer Groups: A group of people with whom one associates and who are likely to influence the person’s beliefs and behavior, such as voting choices.
  4. Social Characteristics: Whether a person is young or old, rich or poor, rural or urban, Easterner or Southerner, African-American or white, male or female may affect personal political opinions.
  5. Mass Media: This term refers to the different media technologies, such as television, Internet, newspapers, film, and radio. Empirical evidence demonstrates that the mass media influences the voting habits of the public.
  6. Religion: A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe. A person’s religion has been found to be a strong indicator of an individual’s voting behavior, because of its impact on how people look at certain issues (i.e. abortion, same-sex marriage, etc.).
  7. Work place/nature of employment: The kind of job one gets and one's participation in the decision-making process, etc., weigh into the political socialization process. Here one can learn about strikes, bargaining, trade unions, etc.

Mock Election: Candidate Backgrounds

Candidate 1

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Gender: Male

Age: late-40s

Family: Married with 2 daughters (age 10 and 8)

Religious Affiliation: Roman Catholic

Race/Ethnicity: Hispanic-American

Education: JD (law)

Stance on Issues: Pro-Choice, pro same-sex marriage. Supports raising taxes on the wealthy, supports increased federal funding in education, supports legalizing research that uses stem cells derived from embryos, does not support drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife preserve, supports the United States adhering to the Kyoto Protocol, supports reinstating the Assault Weapons Ban, supports more thorough background checks for gun ownership, supports creating a path by which illegal aliens already in the US can become citizens, does not support a border fence between the United States and Mexico, supports the creation of a federal, universal healthcare system, does not support limiting the rights of labor unions.


Candidate 2

Party Affiliation: Republican

Gender: Female

Age: mid-50s

Family: 2nd marriage with two children (both from previous marriage. Son aged 28 and daughter aged 24)

Religious Affiliation: Protestant

Race/Ethnicity: Caucasian of European descent

Education: MBA

Stance on Issues: Pro-life, against same-sex marriage. Supports a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, against civil unions, supports school prayer. Supports cutting taxes across the board, supports focus on improving standardized test scores in education, does not support legalizing research that uses stem cells derived from embryos, supports drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, does not support the United States adhering to the Kyoto Protocol, supports constructing a border fence between the United States and Mexico, against the creation of a federal, universal healthcare system, supports use of military action to prevent “rogue” countries from obtaining nuclear capabilities, supports limiting rights of labor unions.


Candidate 3

Party Affiliation: Libertarian

Age: 64

Family: married

Religious Affiliation: Protestant

Race/Ethnicity: Caucasian of European descent

Education: unknown

Stance on Issues: Supports reducing taxes across the board, supports eliminating control on trade, supports letting parents control all educational funding, supports limited intervention in the affairs of other countries, supports repealing all gun control laws and eliminating all restrictions on immigration.


Candidate 4

Party Affiliation: Communist

Age: unknown

Family: unknown

Religious Affiliation: Atheist

Race/Ethnicity: unknown, but has a male name

Education: unknown

Stance on Issues: unknown


Candidate 5

Party Affiliation: Constitution Party

Age: unknown

Family: unknown

Religious Affiliation: unknown

Race/Ethnicity: unknown, but has a male name

Education: unknown

Stance on Issues: unknown

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