I. HUMAN RIGHTS -- WHAT ARE HUMAN RIGHTS?
A.Civil and Political Rights
B.Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
II. HISTORY -- WHY ARE HUMAN RIGHTS SO IMPORTANT?
A.Roots in Natural Law
B.Other Political Ideologies Added Emphasis
C.Pre-World War II
D.World War II
III. LAWS -- HOW ARE HUMAN RIGHTS UNIVERSALLY DEFINED?
A.1945 - Charter of the United Nations
B.1948 - Universal Declaration of Human Rights
C.1966 - International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
D.1966 - International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
E.Numerous Additional Treaties
F.Moral Code of Conduct
IV. IMPLEMENTATION -- HOW ARE HUMAN RIGHTS ENFORCED?
C.Personal Moral Code of Conduct
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Now, therefore, THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims this Universal
Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for
all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and
every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind,
shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these
rights and freedoms:
Article 1 Right to Equality
Article 2 Freedom from Discrimination
Article 3 Right to Life, Liberty, Personal Security
Article 4 Freedom from Slavery
Article 5 Freedom from Torture, Degrading Treatment
Article 6 Right to Recognition as a Person before the Law
Article 7 Right to Equality before the Law
Article 8 Right to Remedy by Competent Tribunal
Article 9 Freedom from Arbitrary Arrest, Exile
Article 10 Right to Fair Public Hearing
Article 11 Right to be considered innocent until proven Guilty
Article 12 Freedom from Interference with Privacy, Family, Home and Correspondence
Article 13 Right to Free Movement in and out of the Country
Article 14 Right to Asylum in other Countries from Persecution
Article 15 Right to a Nationality and Freedom to Change It
Article 16 Right to Marriage and Family
Article 17 Right to own Property
Article 18 Freedom of Belief and Religion
Article 19 Freedom of Opinion and Information
Article 20 Right of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Article 21 Right to Participate in Government and in Free Elections
Article 22 Right to Social Security
Article 23 Right to Desirable Work and to join Trade Unions
Article 24 Right to Rest and Leisure
Article 25 Right to Adequate Living Standard
Article 26 Right to Education
Article 27 Right to Participate in the Cultural Life of Community
Article 28 Right to Social Order assuring Human Rights
Article 20 Community Duties essential to Free and Full Development
Article 30 Freedom from State or Personal Interference in the above Rights
Reprinted by permission of Human Rights for All c 1991 Lawyers for Human Rights (S. Africa) and National Institute for Citizen Education in the Law (USA). All rights reserved.
Convention on the Rights of the Child United Nations Human Rights Bodies --- Flow Chart
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The Code of Hammurabi -
c. 1750 B.CE.
Hammurabi was a ruler of Babylonia--one of several rival Mesopotamian kingdoms--whose reign marked a golden age of Semitic culture. Hammurabi eventually conquered the other Mesopotamian kingdoms, and issued a law code "to establish justice throughout Mesopotamia."
Clay tablet records show that
Hammurabi was a scrupulous, able administrator. His code--one of the
earliest legal documents--influenced Near Eastern civilization for
centuries. It consolidated earlier regulations (of the formal rival
kingdoms Akkad and Sumer) on practical aspects of trade, labor,
property, family, slavery, trade, and the "eye for an eye, tooth for
a tooth" punishment. The Code of Hammurabi survives in a stone column
discovered in Iran in 1901 (now in Paris), and in clay tablet
versions, probably originally posted to inform literate citizens of
Old Testament - c. 1200 - c. 300 B.C.E.
Unlike most ancient peoples, who worshiped many gods, ancient Israelites worshiped one universal God. They saw history as an interaction between God and humanity, whose course depended on obedience to God's laws. The Hebrew Scriptures--39 books by many authors--recorded the law the Israelites believed their God gave them. Christians and Muslims also founded their ethics on the Hebrew Scriptures. Christians know it as the Old Testament. Muslims regard the first five books, the Torah, as divine scripture.
The Torah contains laws God is said
to have given to the Hebrew prophets, beginning with the mosaic
laws--the Ten Commandments--given to Moses on Mount Sinai. The mosaic
laws commanded respect for life and the property of strangers as well
as neighbors by establishing rights in terms of duties (the right to
life, for example, was expressed in the commandment not to kill). The
asylum tradition in churches and synagogues and the principle that
one is innocent until proven guilty also originate in Jewish law.
Confucius - c. 551 - c. 479 B.C.E.
Living in politically and socially turbulent times, Confucius was a philosopher who taught government and social reform. His philosophical teachings revolved around "jen" or benevolence, which he expressed in twin sayings: "Do not do to others what you would not like yourself" and "Do unto others what you wish to do unto yourself". He believed that people should practice jen towards those below them in a social or spiritual hierarchy and that government should practice jen rather than use force. His own employment in government was troubled by disagreements with his superiors.
Confucius' teachings, collected in
his Analects and spread by 3000 disciples, became a code of conduct
and the basis of a traditional way of life that made him the most
influential philosopher in Chinese history. Confucian teachings
emphasizing the individual's responsibilities to the community remain
influential to this day in China and other Asian countries.
New Testament - c. 40 - 100 C.E.
Jesus' followers, scattered around the Roman Empire, wrote letters and accounts of his life, which were circulated among early Christian churches. These became the New Testament, in which Jesus is reported to have quoted the Old Testament: "The Spirit of the Lord is in me...to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to [invite all to God's kingdom]." He then claimed he fulfilled those words.
The New Testament says Jesus angered
religious leaders by denouncing hypocrisy, healing the sick, and
treating women, foreigners, and the poor with dignity. The Apostle
Paul, who wrote some New Testament books in prison, said that among
Jesus' followers, "there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free,
male nor female." The New Testament also says that Jesus taught that
rights come together with responsibilities. He urged his followers to
feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and forgive their enemies.
Magna Carta - 1215
English nobles and clergy rallied against King John I's abuse of power--heavy taxation to finance expensive, unsuccessful wars, and his refusal to accept papal authority, which effectively kept churches closed for years. They subjected the King to the rule of law by enacting from him a "great charter" of liberties.
Though King John I soon violated it,
the Magna Carta eventually came to be cited widely, in defense of
many liberties. The U.S. national and state constitutions contain
ideas and even phrases directly traceable to it--for example, the
concept of no taxation without representation. Clause 39, which
stated that "no free man shall be arrested or imprisoned...[or
dispossessed] except by...lawful judgement," became known as the
right of habeas corpus, or due process of law.
Treaty of Westphalia - 1648
For centuries after Augustine, the Roman Catholic Church was the unique Christian authority in Europe. However, the church became plagued by depravity and an inability to satisfy its followers' spiritual needs, and in the 1500's, a reform movement spread. This reformation and a Catholic Counter-Reformation, along with sovereignty disputes, racked most of Europe for a century.
These wars were finally ended by the
Treaty of Westphalia (named for the region of Germany where it was
signed). The Treaty led to the modern notion of national sovereignty
by freeing state rulers from Catholic church jurisdiction. It allowed
rulers to choose their subjects' religion, but put an end to the
Reformation and the Counter-Reformation by specifying that rulers
would forfeit their lands if they changed religions. The Treaty also
took a step toward religious toleration by allowing Catholic or
Protestant minorities in some states rights to private worship,
liberty of conscience, and emigration.
English Bill of Rights - 1689
James II, like several kings before him, thought the law inconvenient and often dispensed with it. For this his subjects overthrew him in 1688, and when Mary II and William III took the throne in 1689, Parliament passed a bill declaring that it would no longer tolerate royal interference in its affairs. The bill became part of the foundation of the English constitution, and in the following century, most English took pride in the freedom its provisions gave them from arbitrary government.
The bill forbade royalty to suspend
law without Parliament's consent, specified free elections for
members of Parliament, and declared that freedom of speech in
Parliament was not to be questioned, in the courts or elsewhere. The
bill also prohibited taxation or maintenance of an army in peacetime
without Parliament's consent, excessive bail or fines, and cruel and
United States Declaration of Independence - 1776
Calling themselves the Continental Congress, representatives of Britain's 13 colonies first convened in 1774 to protest British policies. When they convened again after the American Revolution had begun, they voted for independence from Britain and adopted the Declaration of Independence, becoming the first government of the 13 United States. The Declaration had far- reaching and lasting influence on individual rights in Western civilization, inspiring rebellion against Spanish rule in South America and against monarchy in France.
Because of his literary skill,
Thomas Jefferson was chosen to write the Declaration. Based largely
on Locke's and Montesquieu's "natural rights" theories, it listed the
colonists' grievances against King George, accusing him of systematic
tyranny; announced the colonies' separation from Great Britain;
proclaimed the creation of the United States; and justified the
revolution. The Congress rejected two passages, in which Jefferson
searingly denounced the slave trade and defamed the English
United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights - 1787, 1791
Faced with teetering economies and armed revolt, 12 of the new states sent delegates to rethink the 1781 constitution. At the convention, the delegates (in their 20's or 30's, but led by veterans James Madison and George Washington) centralized and strengthened the government while aiming to limit its power enough to guarantee individual liberty.
The 1781 constitution replaced the
almost powerless Continental Congress with three branches of
government and provided for checks and balances among them.
Twenty-six amendments to the Constitution have established specific
rights (the Bill of Rights, contributed by antifederalists including
Jefferson, contains the first 10). Adaptable, as one justice
remarked, "to various crises of human affairs" through judicial
reinterpretation, the Constitution is now the oldest in operation and
one of the most influential documents in Western history.
Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen - 1789
Since the 1730's, economic decline and the ideas of the Enlightenment had been spreading in France simultaneously, and the success of the American Revolution had infused French reformers with hope. The Estates General (representatives of the clergy, nobility, and the commoners) wrote the Declaration to exemplify the thoughts of Enlightenment figures such as Voltaire, Montesquieu, the Encyclopedists, and Rousseau.
Though the reform efforts failed and
France tumbled into revolution, the Declaration legacy eventually
prevailed. It attacked the political and legal systems of the
monarchy and defined the natural rights of men as "liberty, property,
security, and the right to resist oppression." The Declaration
replaced the system of aristocratic privileges that had existed under
the monarchy with the principle of equality before the law.
Emancipation Proclamation - 1863
The Civil War started in 1861 as a Northern struggle to keep the United States from breaking apart. Abolitionists were a minority; Abraham Lincoln did not champion slaves' moral claims to freedom and could never have been elected president on a platform of abolishing slavery. But once the Southern states seceded, the political purpose of accommodating slavery disappeared, and as deaths mounted and volunteering declined, pressure grew to enlist blacks. Just two years later, when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the North had transformed the war into a crusade to free Southern slaves.
Because it applied only to
territories in Confederate possession--taking effect only as Northern
lines advanced--the Proclamation at first freed no slaves at all. Its
importance lay in opening the door to black army enlistment--which
shocked many and aided the North's victory--and to passage of the
thirteenth amendment, which outlawed slavery nationwide in 1865.
Geneva Conventions - 1864, 1949
Brought into being by the newly created International Red Cross, the Geneva Convention of 1864 was the first international law treaty governing the conduct of nations in wartime, and so marks the origin of modern humanitarian and human rights law. The Convention created provisions for the treatment of sick and wounded soldiers.
The Convention was revised and
amended several times, and the current version, approved in 1949
after World War II, comprises four separate conventions. The first
and second deal with the care of the sick and wounded in land and
maritime warfare; the third deals with the treatment of prisoners of
war; and the fourth deals with the protection of civilians and
noncombatants. Together, the four Geneva Conventions aim to ensure
that human dignity is respected even during hostilities. Their
provisions continue to be monitored and enforced by the International
Committee of the Red Cross.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi - 1869 - 1948
Gandhi began his career in South Africa, where he practiced law and agitated against racism directed at Indians. There he developed his tactics of non-violent confrontation based on the principle of respect for life; he called his strategy "satyagraha" (truth force). Later, in India, after a massacre by the British, Gandhi led a series of satyagraha campaigns until India achieved independence in 1947. Gandhi's campaigns alternated with imprisonment. His "constructive program" consisted of movements against class discrimination and for Muslim-Hindu unity, women's rights, and basic education.
Later called Mahatma (great soul),
Gandhi was assassinated by a religious fanatic. His influence has
been felt around the world--notably in South Africa and the United
States, where major civil rights movements based on his ideas were
later carried out.
The United Nations Charter - 1945
The U.N. Charter was signed by 51 nations in the postwar climate of 1945. It established an international organization dedicated to maintaining peace and security and to cooperation in solving economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems. Although it affirmed "faith in fundamental human rights," its signatories disagreed on the nature of these human rights. The first U.N. conference therefore rejected a proposal to include protection of human rights as an article of the Charter.
The Charter gives the U.N. General
Assembly and its Commission on Human Rights primary responsibility
for promoting human rights. The Commission was instrumental in
creating declarations and covenants on human rights, including civil,
political, economic, social, and cultural rights. Although not
legally enforceable, these documents are used to interpret the human
rights provisions of the U.N. Charter.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights - 1948
Because representatives at the U.N. conference in 1945 wrestled with reconciling their various conceptions of human rights, the clauses relating to human rights that were finally included in the U.N. Charter were very ambiguous. The U.N. assigned a Commission, with Eleanor Roosevelt as chairperson, to clarify the Charter's references to human rights. The result was a statement of universal goals concerning human rights and freedoms, which was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1948. The Declaration is not legally binding, but its content has been incorporated into many national constitutions, and it has become a standard measure of human rights.
Debates over the priority of
individuals' political and civil rights versus social and economic
rights made drafting the Declaration a long and arduous process.
Socialist nations supported primacy of the latter. Many of the
eastern-bloc countries abstained from voting; Saudi Arabia objected
to religious freedom; and South Africa objected to racial
*The above definitions are taken from the Amnesty International Interactive CD ROM.
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Affirmative Action Action taken by government or private businesses to make up for past discrimination in education, work, and promotion against women and those of specific races, ethnic groups, religions, or disabilities.
Arbitration A process by which, instead of going to court, disputing parties ask a third person to listen to their arguments and then to make a decision which they agree to follow.
Bill of rights A statement in a constitution of human or civil rights that lists protections against interference by governments.
Civil rights The rights of citizens to liberty and equality (for example, the freedom to access information or the freedom to vote).
Collective rights The rights of groups to protect their interests and identities.
Constitution A set of laws by which a country or organization is governed.
Covenant A formal legal agreement such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.
Conventions International agreements dealing with specific subjects.
Cultural Rights The right to preserve one's cultural identity and development.
Death penalty The sanctioned taking of life by the state as a punishment for a crime.
Declaration A formal statement or announcement of intent.
Democracy Government by all people in the country--directly or by representation.
Developmental rights The right of groups to grow in cultural, political, and economic ways.
Disappearance The expression used when people vanish because they have been killed or secretly imprisoned by the government or other organizations.
Discrimination Distinguishing between people on the basis of their race, culture, ethnic origin, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, physical handicap, or characteristics other than individual merit.
Economic Factors concerning the production, development, or management of material wealth.
Economic rights Rights that concern the production, development, and management of materials for the necessities of life.
Environmental rights The right of a person to live in conditions that are healthy and safe.
Freedom of expression The freedom to express views in print and other media, and to receive as well as communicate ideas.
Genocide The systematic killing of people based on race or ethnicity.
Human rights Rights that universally belong to people regardless of their sex, race, color, language, national origin, age, class, religion, or political beliefs.
Indigenous peoples People who are original or natural inhabitants of a country.
Legal rights Rights that are laid down in law and can be defended and brought before courts of law.
Limited government The restriction of government power, usually done through a constitution.
Mediation A process whereby a third person helps disputing parties to settle their disagreement by discussing the issue until both are satisfied with the solution.
Moral rights Rights based on general principles of fairness and justice.
Nationalize The take over and operation of private industries or institutions by the government.
Natural rights Rights that belong to people simply because they are human beings.
Negotiation The process by which people in a dispute talk to each other in order to arrive at a solution to their problem.
Ombudsman An independent, unbiased person who investigates complaints.
Participation Taking part in the public life of a community or society.
Political rights The right of people to participate in the political life of their community and society such as by voting for their government.
Rule of law No person, whether a governmental official, a king, or a president, is above the law. Those who govern and those who are governed are bound by the same law.
Separation of powers The separation of powers into three separate branches of government: A legislative branch to make laws; an executive branch to carry out the laws; and an independent judicial branch to punish law breakers and settle disputes.
Social People living together in communities.
Social rights Rights that give people security as they live together and learn together, as in families, schools, and other institutions.
State sovereignty The state government has the ultimate legal right to determine what is done within its jurisdiction.
Definitions taken from Human Rights for All written by Edward L. O' Brien, Eleanor Greene, and David McQuoid-Mason. Published by the National Institute for Citizen Education in the Law, 1996.
1. Establishing and valuing the knowledge and opinions which
students already have--about fairness, laws, freedom, other
countries, and authority.
2. Getting students to trust and respect others--to feel confidence that by expressing opinions they will not feel foolish.
3. Giving students a sense of initial self-confidence through the successful completion of simple tasks--listing questions about rights which a series of photos raise, making a poster illustrating part of the Universal Declaration.
4. Adopting a problem-centered and action-oriented approach to the subject by focusing on "problems to be solved" rather than "problems which overwhelm us".
5. Giving students a measure of responsibility for designing and managing the rest of the course.
1. The approach is global in the sense of having
a planetary perspective, but also concerning the whole curriculum and
indeed the whole school.
2. The climate of the school encourages expression, inquiry, and dialogue, enabling time to be used flexibly for special projects.
3. Participation is encouraged both by formal structures within the school and through pedagogy of active learning.
4. Human rights is a dimension and cross-curricular theme . Ideally, interdisciplinary teams of teachers will be involved.
5. Although human rights concepts are found in every area of the school curriculum, it is useful to give the idea a high public profile within the school through a special project.
6. Special projects are an appropriate opportunity for working with the community.
7. Human rights education projects are motivating to students and teachers: they encourage a sense of citizenship.
8. Human rights is about law. Respect for process and for the law will increase if students are involved in the formulation of the rules and codes of conduct in their schools and classes.
1. To know about basic rights and fundamental freedoms is part of
the birthright, and should be part of the entitlement curriculum of
all young people. For students in the Council of Europe's Member
States, where human rights are not just claims and assertions but
part of the legal framework, human rights are part of the students'
law related education.
2. Human rights cases and issues are human and can interest and encourage the humanity of students.
3. Human rights offer a value framework suitable for modern society which, typically, is multi-cultural and multi-faith, and part of an interdependent world. Human Rights are, thus, an essential element in education for modern citizenship.
4. Human rights offer to young people something positive to believe in and support.
5. No man or woman is an island. We are all our brother's and sister's keepers and helpers.
6. Young people have rights and responsibilities, and developing an awareness of them is a proper part of education in citizenship.
7. Important organizations -- such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe, and some national human rights commissions -- support the teaching of human rights in the schools.
8. The facilitation of non-violent change is the most urgent task today -- both within societies and between societies.
9. Teaching and learning about human rights can contribute to a political education which is over and above party politics.
10. Teaching about human rights affords students opportunities of active learning, working on non-partisan projects--such as when they work for Amnesty International and conduct campaigns on behalf of political prisoners or raise funds for famine relief.
Lister, I. (1991). The Challenge of Human Rights Education in H. Starkey ed., The Challenge of Human Rights Education, Council of Europe, London.
1. Human rights are too complex for immature minds (an argument
also made about other activates -- such as political education and
2. Human rights over-stress rights and under-stress responsibilities.
3. To teach human rights is a form of indoctrination, in which the teacher becomes a preacher (albeit of a secular religion).
4. Human rights teachers are usually more interested in social change (or in subversion) than in maintaining the fabric of society.
5. Human rights is a culture-bound conception, born in Western Europe and North America, foisted on the world in 1948.
6. There is no consensus about what it is "to have a right", and no consensus about human rights in general. Schools should teach only those things about which consensus exists.
7. Human are too individualistic and private. Group rights, collective rights and the importance of public domain are under-represented.
8. If we arrogate to ourselves the right to pass judgement upon, and seek to interfere with, the internal administration of justice in other countries, we are in effect according the same right of judgement and interference in our own. There is no good so great that it is worth purchasing it at the price of national independence (Extract from a letter by a politician to a schoolteacher who had invited the politician to make a statement in support of a human rights exhibition mounted by students in a comprehensive school).
9. Human rights issues are complex, long-term, and often intractable. Teaching about them can give students a feeling of impotence, rather than enable them to act upon issues and affect their outcomes.
10. Teachers of human go too far. They are not satisfied with teaching about human rights. They want to teach for human rights. They want "human rights schools" and "human rights classrooms". They assert women's rights, children's rights, and animal rights. Some even talk of the "rights of trees". Ordinary citizens will not support this.
Listner, I. (1991). The Challenge of Human Rights Education in H. Starkey ed., The Challenge of Human Rights Education, Council of Europe, London.
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Declaration of the Rights
of the Child
African Freedom Charter
U.S. Bill of Rights
Universal Declaration of
Convention on the Rights
of the Child
Regional Human Rights
U.N. Covenants &
of Racism; Discrimination
against Women; Civil,
Political Rights; &
Economic, Social, &
U.N. Conventions on:
Prevention & Punishment
of Genocide; Prevention &
Elimination of Torture
Defining & developing
* Betty Reardon is a teacher at Columbia University's Teacher College.
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1. Present any factual information in an inviting way. Try to avoid lecture unless it is absolutely necessary. Keep it simple and short.
2. Know your subject area. Students will have very specific questions especially about areas of great interest such as the laws of search and seizure.
3. Use participatory activities such as case studies, mock trials, moot courts, role plays, and simulations. Students will not become bored, and therefore potential disciplinary problems, and they will learn much more than if they simply sit and listen.
4. Know your audience. Avoid legal terms unless you define them. Ask the age of the group, how many, extent of knowledge of the subject area so that you can adjust your lesson.
5. The teacher should remain in the classroom to deal with administrative issues and discipline problems.
6. Prepare an agenda for yourself, the more detailed the better. Break it down into minutes if possible. However, be prepared to vary from it and remember that in most cases your are limited to a specific amount of time and will not be able to go beyond that time. Never "wing it."
7. Don't underestimate the knowledge of your audience. Everyone watches law programs on T.V. Be prepared to address some common misconceptions. Anticipate questions.
8. Try to "uncover," "discover," instead of "cover."
9. Encourage students to ask questions when they think of them. Asking students to wait until the end of your comments results in their confusion and "dropping out."
10. Be realistic. Present situations as they really happen. Students will know when you are explaining the ideal or "the way it is supposed to happen."
11. Avoid placing yourself in the middle of a controversy. If the information you are going to present will flag questionable behavior by school administrators, prepare for that by first talking to the teacher or administrator if possible.
12. Understand your power as an outside resource person. You are an expert and you are a new face in the classroom. The students will probably listen carefully and repeat much of what you say. They might also adopt your attitudes.
13. Present balanced information. This is especially important when teaching current events as they have unfolded in the media.
14. Be enthusiastic and have fun! Move around the room. Vary your voice. Your enthusiasm will be contagious.
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Prejudice, discrimination and other hateful behavior must be considered when discussing human rights. While all human rights violations are not a result of prejudice and discrimination, often they play an integral part in the dynamic. When working with students in the classroom it is very important to consider their experiences and life realities and how this affects class expectations and their attitudes and feelings regarding these issues. It is very important to address the fact that human rights principles and issues are not only applicable in the international setting, that human rights education is also relevant "in our own backyards." It is important that education in human rights can be validating and empowering to students who feel oppressed in some way in our society and also it is important to be sensitive to the fact that this same awareness may possibly be quite frustrating. In working with classrooms it is important to consider:
_ All of us harbor some prejudice against others, of which we are often unaware.
_ By recalling times when we were targets of various forms of prejudice and discrimination, and listening to the experiences of others, we develop the empathy and commitment that will allow us to work against expressions of prejudice in ourselves and others.
_ Given that learning is a lifelong process, and that prejudice is learned, we believe that it can be unlearned.
_ Learning participants can recognize their biases only in an environment that is non- judgemental and non-threatening.
_ Effective techniques for encouraging change are: role play, experiential activities, and interactive discussions without harmful confrontation.
_ Only by empowering and developing the commitment in participants can we significantly diminish hateful behavior and world views in youth and adults, by bringing people together as allies in this struggle.
_ A multicultural educational environment (addressing experiences and perspectives from individuals with diverse backgrounds) is a key factor in reducing prejudice.
From A World of Difference Institute in Minnesota.
Generally speaking, it is important to reflect on our own biases, be sensitive to the experiences and outlook of students and recognize the need of human rights education in addressing our own society's problems as well as the global view. Aiding in this task is the social action componenet built into Partners in Human Rights Education.
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LECTURES: Long lectures are the least effective
approach to helping students understand the law. Short lectures may
be useful to provide background or summarize a discussion, but
proceed carefully when considering lecturing, and combine it with
more "hands-on" methods.
THE CASE METHOD: Although the case method and Socratic questioning are not widely used in secondary schools, they have become very popular in capturing the interests of teenagers. The case method is also effective in helping students understand that many legal conflicts are not simple matters of right against wrong, but of legitimate rights in conflict. Thoughtful questioning can help students identify the reasons, values and legal principles that support their views and can give them a better understanding of the views of others with whom they disagree. While many law school teachers leave issues unresolved, closure and clarification are important for students. Also, be careful not to intimidate students and discourage their participation by intense questioning.
ROLE-PLAYING, MOCK TRIALS AND APPEALS: In these activities students assume the role of another person and act it out. Role-playing helps students understand the issues and views of others and can add a more realistic, experiential dimension to law studies. Role-playing can vary from informal in-class assignments to formal moot court and mock trial presentations.
COOPERATIVE LEARNING: Cooperation is working together to accomplish shared goals and cooperative learning is the instructional use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other's learning. Within cooperative learning groups students are given two responsibilities: to learn the assigned material and make sure that all other members of their group do likewise. Students discuss the material to be learned with each other, help and assist each other to understand it, and encourage each other to work hard. Learning situations are structured so that students cooperate with each other to learn the material. Role-playing, research, mock trials and social action activities are very appropriate methods in which to use the cooperative learning model of classroom participation and learning.
SOCIAL ACTION ACTIVITIES: This is a very important component to the partners in human rights education project. The incorporation of issues in the community, school and lives of students in the application of human rights principles empowers the students to become informed community participants who act upon their understanding of human rights and the responsibilities that accompany them. It is important to ask the question: What can we/I do about this situation? What will we/I do? and plan and carry out that activity.
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1. To practice observing and interpreting behavioral differences.
2. To practice behaving from different cultural perspectives.
3. To translate knowledge about another group into action.
4. To demonstrate knowledge and skills appropriate to a situation.
[Note: Role-playing should be based on knowledge, and not mere guesswork]
Role-plays may arise out of discussions of a critical incident.
Teachers and students
illustrate and practice different solutions to the incident, then discuss and compare alternatives.
a. Brief 'Scenario' or general statement describing the scene for actors and observers.
b. Short written instructions for the actor in each role, describing their point of view toward the encounter. These should be sketchy enough to allow freedom in interpretation.
There should be some conflict between goals or means between/among participants.
1. Distribute the scenario to all in the group.
2. Select members to play each role; give additional instructions about roles only to these individuals (Each participant sees the instructions only for his/her role).
3. Ask the remaining members to make observations on:
a. The nature of the problem depicted.
b. The source of conflict between\among characters (beliefs, assumptions, values).
c. Differences in behaviors (verbal and non-verbal).
d. Feelings expressed during the encounter.
4. Discuss observations and alternative approaches.
Has the conflict been resolved satisfactorily? Why or why not?
A girl of twelve (R1) has been absent from school very frequently, and is doing unsatisfactory work as a result. The girl's mother (R2) has been summoned to school by the teacher (R3) for a conference. The three of them are meeting together in the classroom after school.
Instructions for participants
R1: You know that you should come to school every day, but your mother needs your help at home. You are very respectful of both teacher and mother, and want to please both.
R2: You are uncomfortable about coming to school, concerned about leaving your younger children unattended, and anxious to get home, and (unconsciously) feel it is good for her to learn how to do housework and take care of babies. It will not be long until you expect her to quit school entirely, although you hope your sons will finish high school.
R3: You are a conscientious teacher, very concerned with students' welfare, and convinced that getting a good education is the only way this girl will be able to have a better life than her mother. Furthermore, there is a state law which mandates school attendance until at least age sixteen.
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1. Make sure the students have the knowledge and skills necessary to do the work (If they don't, you'll know in a hurry; they won't stick to the task).
2. Make the instructions to the group very clear . It is unlikely that the group will be able to follow more than one or two instructions (even clear ones!).
3. Allow enough time to complete the assigned task in the small group. Think creatively about ways to occupy groups that finish ahead of other groups.
4. Form groups of two to five students. Have only two or three when a complicated written product is the intended outcome. Five is probably the upper limit for small group discussion.
5. In striking a balance between independent and cooperative learning, don't force the issue. Use small groups only for tasks calling for cooperative work (i.e., not independent work around a small table).
6. Make small group work a norm in your classroom, not a radical, once-in-a-lifetime departure from "lecture and recite."
7. Think about how your reward/evaluation strategy impacts upon the use of small groups. Be able to provide group rewards for group efforts.
8. Be explicit in dealing with management issues within the groups. If someone must report back to the class on the group's work, be sure there is a process for selecting the reporter.
9. Be prepared for the noise level which occurs during cooperative learning activities.
10. In forming groups, don't catagorize students. Heterogeneous groups are usually desirable.
11. By all means circulate and observe/evaluate what is occurring in the groups. When you stop to visit a group, don't take it over. Think about your role in such a situation.
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