Thursday, July 2, 2015

Spotlight on Justice: A Lesson in Ambiguity

Spotlight on Justice: A lesson in Ambiguity

The purpose of this lesson is to explore the ambiguity surrounding justice, and encourage each student to develop a broad personal understanding of the concept. 

Various perceptions  of justice abound, when these  differing perceptions meet conflict may occur.

The objectives of this lesson: 

  1. Student groups will develop a position, supported by evidence, that agrees or disagrees with the following statement: The concept of justice, as applied in the United States, is ambiguous. 
  2. Student groups will develop a code of justice they believe everyone can live with.

I recommend this lesson for grades four and above.

You are welcome to join the conversation by adding your thoughts and additional resources in the comments section.  Happy Teaching, Jacquie



We talk about justice. We seek justice. We demand justice. We fight to obtain justice. More importantly, we know exactly what justice is when we see it. 

OR Do we? 

We each may have our own brand or code of justice; but in truth, our perspective of Justice is very subjective and most-often mirrors those around us.

Adding to the confusion, society's ideas about Justice changes over time, varies within cultures, and among cultures. 

The  symbol of Lady Justice, often seen today in court houses and
other buildings, most-likely found its origin in early Greek mythology. The history  is interesting and a good place to begin discussion. She is blindfolded, holds a sword and scales that represent truth and lie. For a more complete history please Check Out Lady Justice at Wikipedia

Before beginning the lesson is important to place the term Justice in both a historical and a current event context.

There are Four Types of Justice

  1. Economic: What people receive from goods. In other words is someone getting their fair share?
  2. Procedural: This concept looks to establish fair play by establishing a process for distribution.
  3. Restorative: A betrayed person may seek to restore something that has been lost or changed.
  4. Retributive: Works on the principal of punishment for wrongdoing. 
Please visit Essay on Types of Justice for more information.

Following is a non-inclusive list of resources that can be used as reference points. You may decide to add to this list as your lesson progresses.

Lesson on Justice

Preparation: Introduce the concept of justice by sharing some, or all, of the resources listed above.

Pre-Lesson Activities:

  1. Conduct a mini-lecture on justice that includes the four types of justice, and examples of justice within the context of resources listed above. You may choose to add other examples relevant to your class.
  2. Assign students or student groups to investigate what justice means in the context of the Four Types of Justice and/or topics listed in  In the News and on the Web. 
  3. Conduct a class discussion on justice, e.g., what does Justice mean? how can you tell justice can be
Adapt time frames for each activity to meet the needs of the group.

Activity 1:

  1. Assign student to groups of 3-4
  2. Assign the roles of recorder and speaker
  3. Ask student groups to develop a position, with supporting evidence, that agrees or disagrees with this statement: The concept of justice, as applied in the United States, is ambiguous
  4. At the end of the allotted time, have the speaker of each group share the results
  5. Wrap-Up: Ask each student to respond to the question, One thing I learned from doing this activity is.... 
Activity 2:

  1. Assign students to groups of 3-4
  2. Assign students to individually write a Code of Justice by which they think everyone live.
  3. Ask individual students to share their answers with group members.
  4. Assign students, using the individual definitions, to create one Code of Justice the group can live with.
  5. Spokesperson from each group reads the group's code of Justice
  6. Other groups reach to each Code of Justice, I.e., they discuss which parts would be acceptable to them and which wouldn't and why.
  7. If time allows, work toward a class consensus on a Code of Justice.
  8. Wrap Up: Ask each student to name one example of justice that stands out in my mind is....
This lesson is adapted and expanded from Justice a lesson  found in
The Cooperative Classroom by Rhoades & McCabe

Thank you Cindy Kreeger for editing this blog post.

Resources on Amazon to support your lesson:

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