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ERIC Number: EJ1043147
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Sep
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0037-7724
Using Conceptual Tensions and Supreme Court Cases to Increase Critical Thinking in Government and Civics Classrooms
Magwood, Ayo; Ferraro, Krista Fantin
Social Education, v77 n4 p206-210 Sep 2013
Each week, U.S. government classes at the authors' school eagerly organize and participate in moot courts. When they began a search for a Supreme Court case study on substantive due process, they found that the only appropriate brief on the StreetLaw website--a treasure trove of student-accessible court case summaries--"Lawrence v. Texas" (2003), was a case on anti-sodomy laws. Ayo Magwood cautiously explained the situation to her class of mostly teenage boys, expecting an uproar and potentially insensitive complaints. Instead, there was a moment of silence. Brian, a quiet teenage father who rarely says a word in class, suddenly piped up from the corner of the room, "That's okay, it's not about gay sex. It's about privacy." And indeed it was. In the following moot court, a roomful of teenagers passionately and maturely wrestled with the tension between protecting individual privacy rights, on the one hand, and protecting a perceived "common good of family values" on the other. The authors have found that activities like the moot courts encourage students to investigate government concepts in a rigorous way. These activities revitalize the classroom and foster a love for political thinking among the students.
National Council for the Social Studies. 8555 Sixteenth Street #500, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Tel: 800-683-0812; Tel: 301-588-1800; Fax: 301-588-2049; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A