8th Graders Participate in Experiential Learning Project
Last week, the students started a unit on the screenplay 12 Angry Men, by Reginald Rose. Written and broadcast on network television in 1954, it tells the story of 12 jurors as they deliberate the fate of a young man in a capital murder case. In preparation for the unit, students were introduced to juror duty through a slideshow, video, and short lecture. From there, students had to fill out a juror summons and discuss some anticipatory questions to get them thinking about stereotypes, places of origin, and how people's beliefs can impact their choices and actions in life.
This week, students were given the opportunity to try on a legal career for the day. Each student received a personalized 'job offer' and was assigned a client (via a dossier) who needed defense. Each lawyer had to work with his or her co-counselor on the Voir Dire process--selecting jurors who would be sympathetic to or deliver an acquittal for the defendant--from a pool of 18 potential juror profiles. Students also had to identify two or three jurors they would not want to have on their jury and provide rationale. A lively discussion ensued during this process.
While they worked, students were overheard discussing the merits of younger jurors versus more mature jurors, those who had lawyers or police officers in their immediate families, and the impact that careers and personal data of each potential juror would have on their specific client. Each pair of students had a separate case/defendant, but all students were picking from the same pool of 18 jurors.
After a quiz later this week, students will begin to read 12 Angry Men and watch clips of the 1957 Sidney Lumet film. The students are excited to participate in this experiential learning project!