The Five Thousand Year Leap should be the government book for high school children.
When I was in high school I remember learning about the three branches of government, ages required to hold various offices, the Constitution and two main parties. Overall, the course was very basic.
Politics today are so wrapped up in party specific agendas and special interest projects. Often decisions of politicians make little to no sense at all. The book The Five Thousand explains why the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution they way they did. Despite coming from a variety of backgrounds; (differing religious beliefs, professions, income level, etc) they were all well read and agreed on most issues. The majority of their discussions focused on the best ways to implement their goals. They didn't focus on party specific issues, rather, they spent their time writing a document which would work in a variety of different circumstances.
One of their primary goals was to create a government which operated between the two extremes of tyranny (ruler's law) and anarchy (no law). In other words, they wanted the people to rule. The book steps through 28 principles of which the Founding Fathers based their ideas. Beginning with the principles of Natural Law, and virtuous and moral people, this book explains the reasoning of the Founding Fathers in a way that makes a lot of sense still today.
While reading this book my 13 year old daughter completed a number of writing assignments which corresponded with the chapters. Here are some of her essay questions.
Tyranny and Anarchy
1. North Korea is a country currently ruled by tyranny. Somalia has anarchy. Research both countries and write an imaginary tale of your life as a child in each country.
2. You know the difference between right and wrong and therefore instinctively understand natural law. Create a table listing examples of acts both in accordance with and contrary to natural law.
Natural Law vs Political Law
3. Describe at least two past or current American laws which are not in agreement with natural law. Why were the laws passed? What happened?
Irredentism - Land Taken by Force
4. If you were a world leader, describe your irredentism policy.
Price Caps and Price Controls
5. Do you believe price caps/controls are positive or negative policies? Explain using examples.
6. Immigration is a current hot topic in politics. How would you deal with immigration?
Booms and Busts in Economics
7. Briefly describe the cycle of economics.
8. What is inflation?
9. Should businesses be subsidized? Why/why not? Give examples.
Check out these great blog hops for more educational activity ideas.