Scott McLeod's last two posts (one, two) on Dangerously Irrelevant ask an important question: If students are to grow up understanding their constitutional rights, do they need to be able to practice them in school?
In 1992 Johnathan Kozol observed in his book Savage Equalities that the US has two kinds of schools: those for the governors and those for the governed. It's a pithy statement that neatly categorizes the kinds of schools we have in the US. His argument was based on the economic support shown for schools for the poor and those for the well-to-do, but I also think it applies to educational programming. Is your school helping create self-determined individuals or just rule followers?
I've long advocated for research questions that have a "action" element to them. This rubric's final indicator advances that:
A Research Question Rubric: not all research questions are created equal. (from Designing Research Projects Students (and Teachers) Love)
Level One: My research is about a broad topic. I can complete the assignment by using a general reference source such as an encyclopedia. I have no personal questions about the topic.
Primary example: My research is about an animal.
Secondary example: My research is about the economy of Minnesota.
Two: My research answers a question that helps me narrow the focus
of my search. This question may mean that I need to go to various
sources to gather enough information to get a reliable answer. The
conclusion of the research will ask me to give a supported answer to
Primary example: What methods has my animal developed to help it survive?
Secondary example: What role has manufacturing played in Minnesota’s economic development?
Three: My research answers a question of personal relevance. To
answer this question I may need to consult not just secondary sources
such as magazines, newspapers, books or the Internet, but use primary
sources of information such as original surveys, interviews, or source
Primary example: What animal would be best for my family to adopt as a pet?
Secondary example: How can one best prepare for a career in manufacturing in the Twin Cities area?
Primary example: How can our school help stop the growth in unwanted and abandoned animals in our community?
Secondary example: How might high schools change their curricula to meet the needs of students wanting a career in manufacturing in Minnesota?
I usually joke that Level Four is for the "over-achievers."
But I may need to rethink that glib comment...
What assignments empower your students, helping make them governors, not the governed?