Let’s be honest – some subjects are difficult to teach because students think they’re boring. This presents a challenge for teachers to look for ways to make the subject more interesting. Bringing in a bit of fun, making it into a game, or any other kind of interesting twist may spark student interest in a subject.
Learning about the criminal justice system is certainly no different. In Alberta, many teachers are fortunate to have access to a local John Howard Society’s Criminal Justice Education program. Criminal justice educators (CJEs) visit schools to give lively and interesting presentations on how the criminal justice system impacts students.
What else is available? Here is a short list of fun, interesting sites where students can learn about our criminal justice system and how it applies to them.
This site gives students a chance to become judges themselves, presenting interesting cases for them to make judgements. While the site doesn’t appear to have been updated since 2007, some legislation changes since that time may make some information obsolete, but the basic principles of justice will not have changed. Put on your robes and have a go!
The Justice Education Society of BC has a large collection of scripts that students can use to conduct their own mock trials. There are two broad categories: One gives all the details necessary for conducting the trial; the other category of script requires more student input and research to come up with their own questions and other dialogue. Let the trial begin!
This game is the final activity in a series based on the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). By playing the game, students get to test their knowledge of legal concepts, and the game can be used as a preview of a unit on the YCJA, or as a review afterward. The game can be made more or less challenging depending on the knowledge level of the students. Become a Legal Eagle!
A colourful animated interactive site designed to give children more information about the court system and what they need to know if they are called to testify in court. Users can choose their own world location (right down to the specific Canadian province in which they live), their own “avatar” for the game, and an animal sidekick. Various activities and games throughout the site ensure there’s little chance for boredom. Become a Super Hero!
Remember text adventure games you used to play on your computer? How about the “choose your own adventure” books? The John Howard Society of Alberta has developed a game based on this style, which allows the user to follow the story of Kyle, a youth who gets in trouble with the law. As his story unfolds, you get to help him make choices along the way, and these choices affect where Kyle’s story goes from there. Try playing the game more than once, making different choices each time, and see what happens. What choices will you make for Kyle?
Even a subject as potentially dull as the law can be made more fun with the right activity, game or approach. Hopefully, the above links will help you in your teaching efforts.