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Girls' School Students Study Political Science

August 25, 2014 at 1:11 PM

As the election debate heats up, the Girls’ School had a well-timed visit from children’s political author, Maria Gill, writer of ‘Running the Country: A Look Inside New Zealand’s Government.’ Maria’s afternoon workshop, held last week in the library, was part of the Year 7 & 8 Social Science unit that introduces parliament and elections.

Maria was able to share her knowledge with the students surrounding New Zealand’s democratic political system, Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting system and discussed the history behind voting and women in voting. To demonstrate how the voting system works here in New Zealand, Maria held a mock vote which the girls posted in their own ‘kids’ ballot box!’

Before voting and to give the classes a grounding on MMP, the students took turns reading out loud the guiding principles of some of New Zealand’s major electoral parties. After hearing these summaries, Maria then posed the questions to the girls, ‘What is it that you value and what is important to you?’ As she explained, ‘Your answers will help you decide your two preferred candidate and party votes.’

The aims of the Parliament and Elections enquiry topic are geared at students being able to understand how groups make and implement rules and laws, and how people make decisions about access to and use of resources. They will also gain knowledge on how the ways in which leadership of groups is acquired and exercised have consequences for communities and societies, and will understand how formal and informal groups make decisions that impact on communities.

During this study, the girls have been working in small homogenous groups which have had a set of target questions to understand and present. Each member has had a role within the group; leader, recorder and creative director, and has participated in the shared reading and interpretation of the material. At the end of the unit, the girls will have a final presentation where they will share and explain their findings to the class.

The girls found Maria’s fun and interactive lesson helpful in piquing their interest in introductory politics. It was a great opportunity for the students to explore not only the politics of New Zealand, but also to learn about and compare the political systems of a range of countries worldwide.

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