Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Persuasion and voting habits.

Today we looked at persuasion and how people can be persuaded to vote for specific groups or ideas.

Three groups (Purple, Brown and Green) had different ideas for running the school.

The purple group wanted to start early in the morning and finish by lunch. There would be compulsory sports clubs after lunch.

The brown group wanted to slightly alter the length of the day, shorten some breaks but offer a wide range of cross cultural pursuits in an extensive afterschool programme.

The green group would keep the school day as it is, offer more trips and employ excellent teachers.

I consciously avoided words such as 'parties' or 'election' and a class discussion followed about the merits of the various groups. 

After a few minutes we held a quick vote, an opinion poll.

The purples were clear leaders, the browns were next with a tiny minority of children voting for the greens.

Pointing out to the class that this was just an excercise, I then amended some of the group's published ideas. The purple group promised greater choice at lunch, the brown group (second in the poll) offered a one hour breaktime in the middle of the day and the green group proposed to abolish all homework except for the Year Six kids taking exams.

The class went into a mild frenzy. "Can I change my vote?" "What?" "ONE HOUR BREAK??YEAH!"

I assured them that it was just an opinion poll and yes, votes, opinions and minds could be changed. Another fantastic discussion took place.

Another straw poll and then I asked the class.

"The Leader of the brown group is a  bully, would you still vote brown?"

"Even if he was a bully, he wouldn't bully kids"

"Sometimes you have to be a bit of a bully to get stuff done"

A heated debate but the upshot was a completely unchanged total for the browns.

"OK, how about this? 10 years ago on an exotic holiday, the leader of the purple group ate dog soup. Would you still vote purple knowing that the leader is a one time dog eater?"

Fury soon gave way to comments such as "It was 10 years ago" and "What does his diet have to do with running the school?"

"The leader of the green group has been married seven times"

"Was he horrible to his wives or did they die?"

"Loads of people get divorced"

A half hour of fantastic, open minded, open hearted political debate with some of the best 10 and 11 year olds around.

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