Values, Beliefs & Perspectives
What is the relationship between people’s beliefs and values and their positions on civic issues?
In a democratic society, people have different beliefs, which influence their position and actions with respect to issues of civic importance.
In this lesson, students watch an experiment about how our beliefs shape our perspectives during the ‘Minds On’ activity. They review the concept of a civic issue and the factors that shape one’s political perspective. Afterwards, students participate in a political spectrum activity to develop a sense of their civic self-image and better understand how beliefs and values influence opinions and perspectives. In the ‘Consolidation’ activity, students reflect on why it is important to respect others’ perspectives and opinions.
By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
- Use the political perspective to understand how beliefs and values shape perspectives and positions on civic issues;
- Use critical thinking skills to assess their own beliefs, values and perspectives and develop a sense of their civic self-image (Citizenship Education Framework – Identity);
- Use the concept of political significance to explain how people’s beliefs, values, and political ideologies contribute to political change in society;
- Consider and respect others’ perspectives (Citizenship Education Framework – Identity).
- I can use the concept of political perspective to explain how beliefs and values shape perspectives and positions on civic issues;
- I can evaluate my own beliefs, values and perspectives;
- I can see how beliefs, values and political ideologies, can lead to larger shifts and political change;
- I can demonstrate respect for others’ perspectives, even if it differs from my own.
CHV2O: A1, A2, B1, A1.1, A2.2, A2.3, B1.1, B1.4
The camera company Canon produced a series of videos called ‘The Lab – Decoy’ to shift one-dimensional creative thinking behind the lens. One of the experiments highlights the power of perspective. Six photographers were told to photograph the same man, but each of them was told a different background story about who he was. The experiment demonstrates that a photograph is shaped more by the person behind the camera than by what is in front of it. It is a helpful reminder to consider how a preconceived thought or belief can impact your judgement on people, events and issues.
Watch the video with your students: www.canon.com.au/explore/the-lab-decoy-a-portrait-session-with-a-twist
Afterwards, have students Turn and Talk to a partner and discuss the following questions:
- What does this story tell you about the impact that personal values and beliefs can have on how we perceive others?
- What people, events or experiences in your life do you think have most shaped your own beliefs and values?
1. Use Slide Deck 1A to review the concept of civic issues and the elements that make up one’s political perspective.
Teacher Note: A civic issue is a topic or subject that people speak about because it affects society as a whole and there are often multiple opinions on various sides of any given issue. The thinking concept, political perspective, is highlighted in this slide deck.
The slide deck opens with an image of a glass of water. Is it half-full or half empty? Do some people see the glass half-full and others see the glass as half empty?
Review the difference between a perspective and opinion. A perspective is a viewpoint or an outlook, a way of looking at things. Our perspectives are shaped by who we are and our environment. An opinion is your belief about a particular issue or topic.
2. Create a class definition for ‘civic issue’. Ask students to suggest examples of civic issues and explain why they are issues of public concern. Create class definitions for ‘perspective’ and ‘opinion’ and ask students to differentiate by using real examples.
3. Ask students to answer a series of political spectrum questions and analyze the results (Activity 1.1). Alternatively, you could select a few questions for discussion to focus on a smaller number of issues.
- Explain to students that there are no right or wrong answers to these questions. They are meant to encourage reflections on your political perspective and civic self-image.
- Due to the complex nature of individuals, the results of the political spectrum questionnaire will not be completely accurate in pinpointing a precise political standing. It is also important to note that people’s views may be different depending on the topic. For example, you may be more left-leaning on some issues and right-leaning on others.
4. As a class or in small groups ask students to consider which civic issues from the questionnaire are relevant to them and their communities. Have students discuss which civic issues from the questionnaire they find to be the most important or troubling, or which they agree or disagree with most strongly.
- Ensure a respectful environment remains a focus as students share opinions with which others may disagree.
- Know your learners and be sensitive to triggers. Be aware of the cultural backgrounds of your students and that some issues/discussions may include sensitive topics and could trigger an uncomfortable or unsafe environment.
5. Using Slide Deck 1B, review the idea of the political spectrum. The political spectrum provides a way to characterize different beliefs and ideologies, and distinguish between actions on civic issues. Using Handout 1.2, review the terms and perspectives associated with a linear political spectrum.
6. It is important that students are able to demonstrate an understanding of the different beliefs and ideologies and apply various political statements to the spectrum. Using Activity 1.3, have students place the political statements on the linear spectrum. Students can be assessed on their application of new knowledge.
Individually or in small groups, have students respond to one or more of the following questions through a written response, poem, image or multi-media work.
- What people, events or experiences in your life do you think have most shaped your views on civic or political issues?
- How would you define your ideology? What political or civic issues are important to you?
- Why is it important to consider and respect others’ opinions and perspectives?
A) Assign students a particular issue in the news or invite them to select one of their own choosing (e.g., increase in minimum wage, homelessness). Have students determine what position a left- or right-leaning person would take. The key for students is to demonstrate an understanding of the different perspectives associated with the political spectrum and applying them to a civic issue by using evidence from Handout 1.2 to support their thinking. This activity could also be assigned as a group activity and performed as a skit.
Examples: Which approach is better to the help the homeless in your community? More financial support from the government for a local homeless shelters or a campaign to raise money in your community for a local homeless shelter? What position would a left-leaning person take? What position would a right-leaning person take?
Teacher Note: Some guidance may be needed to prevent students from going to the extremes of left or right.
B) Ask students to fill out the 3-2-1 Exit Card (sample provided). Teachers can use this as a as/for learning assessment, to address confusion, as well as to structure future discussions.
- Slide Deck 1A: Values, Beliefs and Perspectives [PPT]
- Slide Deck 1B: Political Ideologies and the Political Spectrum [PPT]
- Activity 1.1: Where Are You on the Political Spectrum? [PDF] [Word]
- Handout 1.2: The Political Spectrum [PDF]
- Activity 1.3: Positioning Statements on the Political Spectrum [PDF] [Word]