Curriculum & activities

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In this section you can find out how public education works and the range of learning opportunities offered for students to challenge their thinking, and make the most of their unique talents.

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Stage 3 Democracy Unit

 

Activity 1: Let's parler! (45 min)

1aDisplay Handout 2and review the structure of society. Explain:

After Magna Carta, whenever the monarch and barons met, such a meeting was called the Great Council. Around 1258 in England people started to describe these Great Councils as a 'parliament'.

 

1eDistribute Handout 7and compare how laws are made before and after the creation of the modern system.

The members of Australia's upper house (called the 'Senate' not the 'House of Lords') are elected by voters.

The modern British Parliament still has a House of Lords and a House of Commons. The nobles who sit in the House of Lords still either inherit their seat or are invited, by the monarch, to hold a seat. But the monarch no longer controls when Parliament sits or who sits in the House of Commons. The Parliament meets regularly. British citizens who have the right to vote decide who is to have a seat in the House of Commons.

 

 

In 1625 Charles Stuart was King Charles I of England. Charles ruled England by divine right. This means that he and his subjects believed that his right to govern his people, and to make the rules by which they had to live, came from God. He also governed by the ancient constitution, which is a very old set of customs and traditions - an unwritten set of rules about the powers of the king - which King Charles believed he honoured.

Of course, the King was willing to listen to advice - sometimes from personal advisers and sometimes from parliament - but he believed he had every right to ignore such advice and to make the final decisions about governing his country and its people.

Parliament in England at this time, we remember, consisted of two 'Houses' - a House of Lords (wealthy nobles and churchmen) and a House of Commons (representatives of landowners and merchants). Parliament only came together, or 'sat', at the king's request. It did not meet regularly as it does now.

To run the country, pay his servants and fight his wars, the King needed money. He got the money by taxing his people.

 

 

 

 

 

Activity 3: Don't lose your head! (30 min)

Ask students to recall how they felt when the king taxed them unfairly. Explain that the following story will show what happened to King Charles when he tried to tax some of his subjects without their permission. Distribute Handout 9 and direct students to follow the events as you read.

It started like this. Between June 1625 and January 1629 Charles called Parliament to sit on four occasions. Charles wanted Parliament to vote him the right to impose taxes so that he could pay for the wars England was conducting against Spain and France. Parliament wanted to have more say about the King's decisions so it refused to grant him the tax. Charles taxed his subjects anyway and arrested some nobles and gentlemen who had refused to pay the tax because they believed it was illegal.

Parliament became angry over these arrests. Charles decided to dissolve Parliament but before that happened the Speaker was held down in his chair until three resolutions were passed. (A Speaker was someone appointed by the king to control parliamentary proceedings.) After this Charles I ruled without calling a parliament for 11 years.

By the time Charles called Parliament again it was most annoyed with him. Parliament put forward a document called 'The Grand Remonstrance' which stated all the things Parliament believed the King had done wrong, and demanded that Parliament have more power and the King less. This document made Charles very angry. He gathered together 400 swordsmen and marched into Parliament determined to arrest the leaders - but they had escaped. Charles' invasion of the House of Commons caused many Members of Parliament to turn against him.

In June 1642 Parliament put forward a new document called 'The Nineteen Propositions'. This document more or less called for Charles to give up all his rights to govern as king. England became divided on the issue of who should have the most power to make the rules - king or parliament - and in 1642 England went to war with itself. The Civil War was fought between armies loyal to the King (Royalists) and armies loyal to the Parliament (Parliamentarians). The struggles between the two sides continued for seven years. In the end, the side loyal to the King lost. King Charles was tried for treason. He was found guilty and was beheaded on 30 January 1649.

Parliament took over governing the country for a while; however, it did not govern well. Oliver Cromwell, a general who had been successful during the Civil War, took over from Parliament and became the Lord Protector of England.

It started like this. Between June 1625 and January 1629 Charles called Parliament to sit on four occasions. Charles wanted Parliament to vote him the right to impose taxes so that he could pay for the wars England was conducting against Spain and France. Parliament wanted to have more say about the King's decisions so it refused to grant him the tax. Charles taxed his subjects anyway and arrested some nobles and gentlemen who had refused to pay the tax because they believed it was illegal.

Parliament became angry over these arrests. Charles decided to dissolve Parliament but before that happened the Speaker was held down in his chair until three resolutions were passed. (A Speaker was someone appointed by the king to control parliamentary proceedings.) After this Charles I ruled without calling a parliament for 11 years.

By the time Charles called Parliament again it was most annoyed with him. Parliament put forward a document called 'The Grand Remonstrance' which stated all the things Parliament believed the King had done wrong, and demanded that Parliament have more power and the King less. This document made Charles very angry. He gathered together 400 swordsmen and marched into Parliament determined to arrest the leaders - but they had escaped. Charles' invasion of the House of Commons caused many Members of Parliament to turn against him.

In June 1642 Parliament put forward a new document called 'The Nineteen Propositions'. This document more or less called for Charles to give up all his rights to govern as king. England became divided on the issue of who should have the most power to make the rules - king or parliament - and in 1642 England went to war with itself. The Civil War was fought between armies loyal to the King (Royalists) and armies loyal to the Parliament (Parliamentarians). The struggles between the two sides continued for seven years. In the end, the side loyal to the King lost. King Charles was tried for treason. He was found guilty and was beheaded on 30 January 1649.

Parliament took over governing the country for a while; however, it did not govern well. Oliver Cromwell, a general who had been successful during the Civil War, took over from Parliament and became the Lord Protector of England.

Handout 6 (pdf, 472 KB)Handout 7 (pdf, 408 KB)Handout 9 (pdf, 411 KB)Handout 10 (pdf, 431 KB)Handout 11 (pdf, 429 KB)Handout 12 (pdf, 422 KB)Mystery Questions (pdf, 408 KB)1 and 2 (pdf, 444 KB)