Purpose: Students recognize that despite the forms power takes, true power always lies in the decisions they make.
1. Students explore different forms of power.
Prompt students to think about what gives people power by asking questions such as the following. Encourage students to explain their answers.
- Do you think money gives people power?
- Do you think beauty gives people power?
- What about physical size or age?
- Does education give people power?
- What other things give people power?
Have students brainstorm a list of the sources of power. Write their responses on the board. Afterward, take a quick poll of the class, item by item, noting how many agree that any particular item actually gives people power. Place a star beside the items most students agree on. Note that it seems as though power can come in many different forms.
2. Students consider people who have power.
Continue the discussion by inviting students to name two or three people who have more power than they do. Students will most likely name teachers, principals, older siblings, and parents/guardians. Invite students to give specific examples of how these people have more power.
3. Students trace the source of true power.
Explore each example given by making statements and asking questions to show students that they themselves hold the true power. For example, if a student believes that a teacher has power because they can make students stay after school, make the following points in sequence:
- The teacher does not have to make a student stay after school.
- The teacher has to make a decision about it.
- To get to that point, a student must have made a decision first.
- What decision must the student have made? (The student must have decided to break a rule, the consequence of which is staying after school.)
As you discuss other examples, encourage students to follow a similar path of logic to trace the source of power back to their own decisions.
Ask students if they think that the ability to make choices is a kind of power. As students agree, add this to the list on the board and circle it. Tell students that they will spend time later in this course learning about how to make better decisions.