March 21, 2019

Law & Society

"American Skin" Song Analysis

Students will explore their ideas about fairness in the American criminal justice system and the role of race and ethnicity by analyzing the depiction of the Amadou Diallo shooting in Bruce Springsteen’s song “American Skin (41Shots).” They will apply newly acquired knowledge about the protections and limits of the Fourth and 14th Amendment and law enforcement challenges to a reevaluation of their ideas about fair and equal treatment by the police.

Conversations with Leaders in Law

This guide provides resources and potential discussion topics to help bring together law-related community leaders and students. 

Exploring King's Beloved Community

In this lesson, students analyze a political cartoon, and in discussing its meaning, also have a conversation about Martin Luther King’s “beloved community.”

It's My Life

In this lesson, students will think critically about the legitimacy of government intervention in their lives. They will compare individual rights with the public good, and identify some justifications for government intervention. 

No Vehicles in the Park

In this lesson, students will apply a general law – “no vehicles in the park” - to specific circumstances in considering the language of the law and its intended objective. The task will require that they interpret the law to allow for certain circumstances – an ambulance carrying a dying patient, for example. The lesson ends with students rewriting the law to more clearly reflect the intent of the lawmakers.   

Teen Curfew

In this lesson, students will consider a proposed teen curfew law in a mock city council session. The class is divided into groups; one group is the city council, and the others represent the interests of groups of citizens – merchants association, county school board, etc. This exercise helps show students how citizens can be involved in policy change and decision making.  

Understanding Contracts

In this lesson, students are asked which of two chocolate bars – one with nuts, one without – they prefer. A single representative is taken from each preference group. These representatives are given the chocolate bar that they prefer less, motivating a contractual trade. One student unknowingly has an empty wrapper, eliciting debate after the trade is completed. The class concludes by discussing possible equitable solutions.