Democracy - Exercises

Democracy - Exercises


7 Seconds

It only takes a few moments for us to form a first impression of another person and most of it is based on our prejudices. Our prejudices are based on stereotypes that are often unconscious. Examples include "all Swedes are blonde and blue-eyed" and "Young people are lazy and just play all day." Prejudice can have a negative impact on society by contributing to segregation, injustice and social inequality.

It is important to combat prejudice through education, awareness and dialogue to promote tolerance, understanding and respect for all people's differences and similarities. This exercise gives you the opportunity to fight prejudice with truth. 

Step one: Divide the participants into groups of two. Then have the participants guess each other's interests, backgrounds, what they were like as children, favorite subjects and anything else they believe about the person in front of them, one at a time. 

Step Two: The participants now go through which of these statements are true or not. If they want, they can tell the truth. For example, someone guessed that "you were calm as a child", what is true? 

Theater about the different forms of governance

The participants are divided into five different groups, where each group gets a boardroom to show off to the others in a theater. Cut out the descriptions below and assign the board positions to the groups. They get about 20 min to prepare, then 5 min/group to present.

Board of Directors:

Direct democracy: Also direct democracy, is a form of decision-making where decisions on individual issues are made democratically directly by those entitled to vote themselves. If we had direct democracy in Sweden, everyone over the age of 18 would vote in all decisions made in the municipality, the region and in the Riksdag. One way of direct democracy is when we have referendums.

Representative democracy: Representative democracy refers to a system where the people rule by electing parties or representatives with decision-making rights. Representative democracy is the system we have in Sweden today. It is where we elect politicians who have the same views as us and they in turn make decisions.

Monarchy: Monarchy is a state in which the head of state is a monarch. In monarchies, the throne is almost always inherited within the same family. The position of monarch is usually not limited in time and often hereditary. In some monarchies the monarch has more power than others.

Dictatorship: Dictatorship is the opposite of democracy. In a dictatorship, the state is ruled by one or more people (often military) who are not elected by the people. The people cannot choose who or who will rule. Neither can the rulers be voted out of power in general elections. The people are NOT allowed to think and think as they want - censorship and restricted freedom of expression prevail.

Anarchy: Anarchy comes from the Greek "anarchia" which means the absence of rulers and state power. In a little more detail, one can say that anarchism is a theory whose goal is to create a society in which individuals freely cooperate as equals. Here there is no one who rules, but everyone rules for themselves.

Debate boxing

Two participants are each assigned an unproblematic topic, eg apple vs. banana, summer vs. winter, popcorn vs. chips, pizza vs. hamburger, etc. They then get to debate their topic in front of the others for 1 minute. 

Is your life democratic?

Step 1. Start by discussing what democracy is with the group.

  • What is democracy?
  • What does it mean to live in a democracy?
  • What rights do you have?
  • What is the opposite of democracy?
  • What types of directors are there?
  • What does it mean to live in a dictatorship? 

Discuss as a whole group and write on the board what the participants say. Help them come up with more things in case it stops.

Step 2: Have the participants write their answers to the following questions on post it notes; one answer per slip and different colors on the slips for the two different questions.

  • What can the participants be/not participate in and decide on?
  • What would they like to be involved in deciding? 

Put the notes on the wall and look at them together. Ask the group what they think and have them discuss the notes together.

The hot line about democracy

Explain that the exercise is about thinking about and discussing democracy and influence, and getting to take a stand on different claims.

  1. Make a line along the floor.
  2. Lay out paper with numbers 1 to 10 in order.
  3. State one statement at a time, have participants take a stand by standing at one end of the line (number 10) if they agree, at the other end (number 1) if they strongly disagree, or somewhere in between.
  4. Start with some simple statements to show how the exercise works:
  • I would like to eat ice cream for dinner every day
  • Winter is my favorite season
  • It's great fun playing football

Then move on to the real statements. Let those who want to share their thoughts about where on the line they have placed themselves after each statement.

  • Everyone in a group should be allowed to say what they think on all issues, even if it takes a long time.
  • If someone in the group knows the most about a certain question, he should get to decide.
  • It is usually easy to come to an agreement, even if you actually think differently or want to do things in different ways.
  • Adults usually know what is best for children.
  • I usually feel that adults listen to what I say.
  • Students should be allowed to decide more in school.
  • You should be allowed to vote before you turn 18.

My residential area

Four corners exercise: Each corner of the room represents a different answer to the statements. Read out a statement and associated answer, and have the participants place themselves in any corner. In the open corner, you decide if you have a completely different answer to the statement. Anyone who wants can then tell us how they think about the claim and their choice of corner to stand in.

My residential area is:

  1. Adapted based on the best interests of children
  2. Adapted based on the best of the environment
  3. Adapted based on the best interests of adults
  4. Open corner

The best/worst things about my field are:

  1. That there are fun things to do
  2. That many people of different nationalities live here
  3. That I never have to feel afraid
  4. Open corner

What I like least about my field is:

  1. That there is nothing fun for me to do in my spare time
  2. That sometimes dangerous things happen and that I can feel scared
  3. That I cannot influence in my residential area
  4. Open corner

Is any right more important?

  1. Cut apart each article from the Convention on the Rights of the Child separately. You can find the articles here:
  2. Divide the participants into small groups that will first select the 10 most important articles according to them.

    Here it is important that they discuss and try to reach an agreement within the small groups. Then let them tell the whole group how they have thought.

  1. Then move on to selecting the 5 most important items.
  2. Discuss again in a large group how they managed to choose and how they reasoned.
  • Is there an article that you do not understand?
  • Someone who is easy to opt out/obviously not opting out?
  • Did you agree?
  • What are the advantages of having a special children's convention? After all, children are already included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • Do you think that the Convention on the Rights of the Child is followed in most countries? Are children's rights respected globally?
  • Who has the right to decide who is a child?
  • Is Sweden good at guaranteeing children's rights today? Think about examples in your everyday life!


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