with Jayne Besjak
Welcome to the Courtroom!
Welcome to the start of our fall 2014 semester! It was such a joy to see returning and new students gathered today at Mosaic. We have a large and enthusiastic group of students in our class which is going to be absolutely perfect for conducting mock trials!
After introductions and a discussion of classroom etiquette, I provided a broad overview of what it means to participate in a mock trial. I explained to students that they will be imitating real courtroom and trial procedures - cases based on fairy tales and literature - where students will assume the roles of actual trial participants. These will not be scripted dramas, but rather the statements, presentations, questions and answers that students create themselves based on research, facts and collection of evidence.
One of the most exciting aspects of this process is that the outcome of each and every trial - guilt or innocence - will hinge on how the students are able to bring each case to life!
I read aloud a version of the allegorical story “The Lady, or the Tiger?” to get students thinking about the concept of justice. Ask your student to recount the tale - they enjoyed it! I served several students with “Notice of Trial” cards and they were brought into the classroom arena, as we conducted our own semi-barbaric style trials. Students were charged with such heinous crimes as talking in class, running with scissors, and fighting at lunch - all punishable by death! Thankfully all were deemed innocent, and the exercise sparked discussion about what is “fair” and how guilt or innocence should be determined in a society.
I introduced the image of “Lady Justice” to the class and asked students to identify her distinguishing characteristics. We discussed what each of these symbolize in our system of justice:
the balance - weighing evidence
the sword - delivering punishment
the blindfold - objectivity, also known as the concept of “blind justice”.
Students began to see that justice is in fact a complex concept involving rights, laws, and the interpretation of laws. Much more to come on this as we proceed through the semester!
We then looked at the three branches of government to see how our Constitution provides for a separation of powers. Students should remember that:
I explained to students that there are two types of trials - criminal and civil - and that they will be engaged in both types during this class.
We're off to a fantastic start - I love the enthusiasm of this group! See you all next Monday!