Grade 8 Debates Voting in 1848

At the end of the unit “Power and Democracy,” grade 8 Social Studies class held a debate to determine what the best way to win the vote is: peaceful protest, or violent action. We take for granted that the right to vote is already a fact in many democratic countries around the world.

This was not the case in England, 1848. The grade 8 students took on the role of industrial workers of England from 1848, and debated the issue from the perspective of the working class during the height of the industrial revolution. These “workers” collected and used arguments and evidences from the American Declaration of Independence and the American War of Independence of 1776, the French revolution of 1789, and the English chartist revolution of 1848, to examine the merits of violence or peace in pursuit of the right to vote. The debaters, who were dressed in appropriate costume, delivered their prepared written speeches.

Two judges listened to the debate carefully and announced the winners. The students did a wonderful and convincing job!