Lesson Rating 
PrintOne to Two Fifty-Five Minute Class Periods
The learner will:
  • explain how the majority uses power to make decisions.
  • list the rights of the minority in the decision-making process.
  • describe ways the minority can make its voice heard.

Elbow, Peter. Writing With Power. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981. ISBN: 0-19-5029135.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

      Ten minutes of "free writing." Have the students remember back to a time when they had to go along with a group decision that was not what they wanted to do. Write about the situation, the group, the decision, how the decision was made and how the student felt. Some will be read. Include no real names or signatures.
  2. Collect the writings and read a few. Explore shared feelings and issues. Correct any misunderstandings about majority rule and minority rights that surfaced.
  3. Tell the class that they will have another opportunity to practice making a decision using the principles of majority rule and minority rights. They will be deciding what kind of pizza to order for tomorrow (teacher's treat).
  4. Create five or seven teams (unequal numbers in each group). Each group should choose a representative by a simple majority vote. Their task is to decide on the two toppings to have on the pizza, what kind of pizza (round or deep dish) and from where the pizza will be ordered. (Only one pizza will be ordered for the class.)
  5. Representatives from each group should meet in a small circle of five or seven students. The respective groups (constituents) should sit together and form an outer circle. The groups in the outer circle have a responsibility to listen to the conversation; follow how their interests are being represented; discuss among themselves and communicate their ideas to their representatives. (Each outer circle group may decide to work as a unit or individuals may act on their own.) The representatives will only listen to their group members.
  6. Debrief: Once the decision is made, give each group an opportunity to publicly give feed-back to their representative as to how satisfied they are with his/her conduct. For example, were their interests represented? Were compromises made? If compromises were made, what was the representative's rationale? Did the representative seek feedback from the group as issues evolved or did he/she use individual judgment? Was that okay? Did we see any examples of the representative acting differently from the wishes of the majority? How could that be? Did we hear the representative consider the interests of the minority (vegans, vegetarians, carnivores, etc.)?
  7. As a whole class, ask the students to consider the needs of the minority - those who did not get what they wanted. Explore how the private, non-profit and family sector might be used to provide the pizza they want. Use the four sectors of society as a framework to guide their thinking. Extend this example of the need for pizza to the role of nonprofit organizations working to protect individual rights, equity, and justice.
  8. Closure - As small groups, have students look at their graffiti board about majority rule and minority rights and remind themselves what they originally thought about the principles. Have students add new insights and cross out ideas that they no longer hold. Hear feedback from each group.
Debriefing after simulation Revision of concept map

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Identify and discuss civil society sector organizations working to protect individual rights, equity, and justice.