GORE BAY—A group of Charles C. McLean Public School students had a great hands-on learning experience about the Ontario legislature last week.
“This week (Wednesday, April 27) the Ontario Legislative Outreach Program visited C.C. McLean to provide a program to all our Grade 4, 5 and 6 students,” said teacher Heather Jefkins. “They set up a display in our library and discussed the various levels of government (municipal, provincial and federal) and what their responsibilities are with regards to the creation of laws for all citizens. Students had an opportunity to play an interactive sorting game, where they sorted all the responsibilities into the three different levels.”
Ms. Jefkins explained, “the presenters also spent time discussing Queen’s Park and the physical set up of the legislature. After that, they organized the students into two groups (government and opposition), and had students role-play through choosing a topic to create a Bill. The government and opposition worked together to choose the Speaker of the House (Damien Hore, a Grade 6 student), the Clerk (Patricia Patterson) and the Sergeant-at-Arms (Jenna Shank), who were then dressed in appropriate ceremonial robes and hats.”
“Once that was finished students debated the ‘Two Day School Week Act,’ learning proper Parliamentary behaviour (sitting when the Speaker stands, waiting for permission to speak, and responding politely to both sides of the debate),” continued Ms. Jefkins.
Students were encouraged to create logical arguments for their position for and against the Bill. The government argued that a two-day school week would allow children to be physically active through outside play, and to spend more time with friends and family. The “opposition” argued that a two-day school week would not allow enough time for learning, and that it might make it so students would not be able to learn all the required information. After a robust debate, the Speaker called the MPs to vote, and the government prevailed, passing the Two Day School Week Act into law.
The Ontario Legislative Assembly Outreach Program is currently on a tour of Northern Ontario. C.C. McLean Public School was their only stop on Manitoulin Island.