Lesson Plans - Law

Making Good Laws

The Case of:  Mae Sa Waterfall - entrance fee


Lesson Plan:

GRADE(S): 6-12

DESCRIPTION:

class involvement in evaluating rules and laws; three activities: working with the law; exceptions to the law; re-writing the law
"Mae Sa Waterfall Entrance Fee"

Mae Sa Waterfall

Thai adults 20 baht, Thai children 10 baht, motorcycles 10 baht and cars 20 baht. The admission fee for foreigners is: adults 200 baht and children 100 baht.
DURATION:

40 minutes (1 period) or could be spread over two periods

LANGUAGE: English (can easily be adapted to the language of the classroom)



AUTHOR: Keerock Rook, The Learning Foundation

LEARNING OBJECTIVE(S):

At the end of this lesson, students should be able to...
• identify characteristics of good rules or laws
• draft a good law

FORMAT:

small group discussion, followed by summation for class discussion

BACKGROUND:
The best foundation for the exploration of rules and laws is the examination of what makes a good rule or law. With that understanding in hand, other lessons in law may explore how and why rules are made, and who has the authority to make them.

Examining what brings "goodness" to laws allows students to identify characteristics of successful rules and laws.
In order to get into this subject, we begin with some "givens":

• that some people have the authority to make laws;
• and that laws are made to help keep order and protect people in society.
(These issues can be explored in more detail in other lessons, but for the purposes of this lesson, we begin with these two understandings.)

We assume, therefore, that parents, teachers, principals, and public officials have the right to make rules and laws.
Adults, however, are not the only people who make rules.
Many rules are made in schoolyards, especially when groups of children are playing games.

Good rules are not easy to make and this lesson explores the characteristics of good rules.

The following criteria are adapted from Lawmaking, by Linda Riekes and Sally Mahe Ackerly, 2nd edition. St. Paul: West Publishing, 1980.

• Good rules are fair.
• Good rules can be followed (that is, are within societal values).
• Good rules state the penalty for disobeying.
• Good rules can be enforced. It is possible to prevent anyone from breaking the law; and it is possible to witness anyone breaking the law and to make them pay the penalty.
• A good rule indicates who is expected to obey it, whether individuals or groups.
• A good rule is in keeping with other laws. Obeying one law should not put us in the position of disobeying another.
• Good rules have no vague or ambiguous words. The best rules are written in plain English.
• A good rule defines any word that might be misunderstood either because it could have more than one meaning, or because it is an uncommon word.

In order to appreciate these criteria, students are given a sample law to discuss.

• First, they are asked to be judge of behaviours in light of a particular law.
In the discussion following their decision, they should explore the problems they encountered in enforcing the law.
• The students, through this discussion, create a list of criteria for good laws or rules (similar to those listed above).
• In a second activity, returning to the original law, students deal with exceptions to the law. Situations apparently in conflict with the law are discussed in small groups and once again the students are asked to judge each situation, examine the process of arriving at their decision, and determine how to enforce the law as it stands.
• In light of this discussion, in the third activity students are asked to rewrite the law and the public notices for this particular law.
• With a revised law in hand, students re-examine the list of criteria for a good rule or law and determine their success in re-writing the law.
RECOMMENDED STUDENT MATERIALS:

Write the Mae Sa Waterfall Entrance Fees on the Board

RECOMMENDED TEACHER PREPARATION: Review of this material.

CLASSROOM STRATEGIES: Activities A, B & C
"Mae Sa Waterfall Entrance Fee"

Mae Sa Waterfall

Thai adults 20 baht, Thai children 10 baht, motorcycles 10 baht and cars 20 baht. The admission fee for foreigners is: adults 200 baht and children 100 baht.

Activity A: Who is a tourist?

1. The students in pairs are asked to decide if the "Mae Sa Waterfall entrance Fee" law has been violated in each of the following cases. Each pair should be prepared to give reasons for its decision.
• A woman who looked Thai but was from Canada was charged 20 baht, the Thai adult rate.
• A foreigner accompanied by his Thai wife was charged the adult 200 baht fee for foreigners but his wife who showed her Thai ID card paid 20 baht.
• A teenage boy who looked like his British father not his Thai mother was charged the 100 baht entrance rate for foreign children.
2. Have the class as a group discuss their decisions, the reasoning behind their decisions, and the problems they encountered in making their decisions.
3. Have the class develop a list of criteria for good rules or laws.
Activity B: Exceptions to the "Mae Sa Waterfall Entrance Fee" law.

1. Have the students in pairs, or groups of three, determine if the "Mae Sa Waterfall entrance Fee" law has been violated in each of the following situations. Let the students know that it is not the definition of "tourists" that is in question in all cases.
• An Asian woman from Singapore said nothing and gave the clerk 20 baht . The clerk accepted the 20 baht payment and let her enter.
• A foreigner who was a teacher at Chiang Mai University showed his work permit and asked to be admitted at the Thai rate and was charged the 20 baht fee.
2. Have the class as a group discuss their decisions, and the factors they considered before arriving at their decisions.
3. Have the class decide what could be done to enforce the law.
Activity C: Re-write the "Mae Sa Waterfall Entrance Fee" law. 1. Have the students in pairs, or groups of three, write an improved "Mae Sa Waterfall entrance Fee" law and revise the signs to be posted at the waterfall entrance. 2. Have the class as a group re-examine the list of criteria for a good rule or law and determine their success in re-writing the law.

OR

3. Redistribute the revised law to students in small groups and have other students prepare a report on the success of the revision based on the criteria for a good law.

ASSESSMENT:
A) End class discussion with the question "What makes a good law?"

Student answers should include:
• can be enforced;
• can be followed (that is, is within societal values);
• is fair;
• indicates who is expected to obey it;
• states the penalty for disobeying;
• is in keeping with other laws (that is, doesn't contradict other laws);
• has no vague or ambiguous words;
• defines words that might be misunderstood.

B) A written assignment could be given to complete the sentence, "This is a good law because..."
WHERE TO GO FROM HERE:
• Research for classroom discussion school or local municipal bylaws that approximate "Mae Sa Waterfall Entrance Fee".
• Extend the lesson with this reaction to the entrance fees: Double pricing produces decreasing tourist numbers to Mae Sa Waterfall - Chiang Mai-mail.com
• Students can also do research on the legislative process at the Canadian Parliamentary Internet/parlementaire website.
"Mae Sa Waterfall entrance Fee" - is based on "Working with Rules and Laws" from the Canada School Net simplified mock trial design.


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