Taking a stand is important. Get pupils to stake out their position in a physical as well as a moral sense, says Douglas Smith
I call this lesson, "Them or me?" Before we begin, ensure you have enough space for the group to stand comfortably. Place a long piece of string or a washing line from one side of the classroom to the other. Explain you are going to give pupils a series of statements and that they have to decide what they would do in each situation.
One end of the line is for those who would definitely do it and the other is for those who definitely wouldn't. The middle is for those who aren't bothered either way.
Pupils can stand anywhere on the line according to their beliefs. Then start asking the questions: Would you make a weekly donation to a charity? Give an hour of your time each week to help an elderly neighbour? Give blood? Help run a youth club? Have a surrogate baby or allow your partner to have a surrogate baby on behalf of yourher sister who is infertile? Donate a kidney to a relative who is dying of kidney failure?
Then split them into groups of three and four, give them one of the above statements each, and ask for arguments as to why people should do it.
After about 10 minutes, give them another statement and this time they have to come up with reasons why people shouldn't.
At the end of the lesson, go through each question and get the groups to feed back their opposing arguments.
This is a lesson that helps pupils to consider the social, moral and ethical implications of their actions, to get a better understanding of the importance of altruistic behaviour in society, and to improve their discussion and debating skills.
Douglas Smith is a citizenship Advanced Skills Teacher at Swanshurst School in Birmingham.