• The Pen Game

To successfully pass a pen around the group seated in a circle.

To show how the rules or laws that are made without consulting all people lead to unfairness and injustice and breed cynical attides.
To draw connections between the rules of a game and human rights.

Set Up:
The group sits in a circle and are told they are going to play the Pen Game. Tell them the rules of the game will not be explained.

Give a pen to one person and ask them to start the game by passing the pen to the next person in the circle.

After the pen is passed, announce that the passer has broken a rule, and say what the rule was. It can be any arbitrary thing.

Ask the second person to continue by passing the pen to the next person.

Every so often, announce another broken rule; continue the game until the pen returns to the person who started.

Sample broken "rules": passing pen with left hand, passing pen with tip forward. passing pen with cap off, passing pen without saying "Bam!", passing pen with legs crossed, passing pen to someone wearing a ring, passing pen to someone wearing a green shirt, etc.

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What mistakes were made?
What were the rules to the game?
Do they accept their mistakes?
Was the game fair?
Who is to blame for the errors, the participants or the facilitator?
What was wrong with the game?
How should it be changed?
How can the game be made fair and just?

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Have you ever heard of human rights?
Can you explain what they are?
Explain that human rights are those rights which are essential for us to live as human beings.
Give some examples. Unlike the rules in the Pen Game, human rights are agreed upon by everyone, make sense and are fair. They are meant to protect people from unfair rules, and ensure not only access to basic needs such as food and shelter, but also the chance to grow and develop beyond what is required for survival.

Explain that after World War II and the formation of the UN, a group of some 50 countries got together and agreed on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which lists the rights that every person has. John Peters Humphrey, a Canadian from New Brunswick, wrote the first draft of the Declaration, so Canada had an important role right from the start. The UDHR is not a law, it is a statement about what countries should do. However many countries, such as Canada, have made the UDHR part of their own laws. Canada has done this through the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) and the Canadian Human Rights Act.

There are also two international covenants (treaties) based on the Declaration which bind the countries which have signed them, one on civil and political rights, and the other on economic, social and cultural rights. Several other treaties on specific rights, such as the rights of women and of children, have also been adopted by the UN. Explain that human rights come in different categories but they are all
equally important.

Give examples for each category:

political rights (right to vote),
civil rights (right to freedom of opinion),
equality rights (right to be free from racism),
economic rights (right to be paid fairlyfor work),
social rights (right to an education) and cultural rights (right to speak one's own language).

Explain that the UN works to protect human rights by setting standards and establishing the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to coordinate all its human rights related activities.

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Explain that one of the special treaties on human rights is a treaty just about the rights that children have. Distribute the simplified version of the Rights of the Child Declaration (see "Children's Rights" sheet in Resource section).
Ask: Children to volunteer to read each right out loud. What does each mean? Explain. Distribute a copy of the "New School Rules" to each student. Explain that because of certain problems that many schools are having, a fictitious government organization has drafted a new set of rules that all schools must follow (see "New School Rules" in Resource section). Read the rules out loud with the students help.
Ask: What do they think of these rules? Why? Divide them into groups of 4-6 and ask them to decide which of the Rights of the Child each new school rule violates. Go over their answers, and clarify any questions.
Ask: How many have ever heard of UNICEF? Explain that UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, is a UN Programme that takes the lead role in monitoring the rights of children and in working to make sure children have good access to adequate health care and education. Explain that every right implies a responsibility, and give an example (free speech).
Ask**: What responsibilities do the Rights of the Child imply? As a group, draw up a list of classroom rules that ensure everyone's rights are respected. Try to reach agreement on each rule. Post the rules on the wall as a miniature charter of rights for the classroom. This will complement the Class Charter that was drawn up in Session One.

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Ask the students to think of one rule that they believe is the most important for the world to be peaceful and for everyone's rights to be respected. Get them to write three lines:

My rule is.... The UN can help by... Canada can help by...

Charter of Rights and Freedoms

We live side by side with our neighbors. If those neighbors are a province or two away, we are still close. The world has shrunk. It is connected. We can travel across the country within a single day. We can directly communicate in seconds from one end of the Earth to the other. In earlier, simpler times, sending a message could take days, months and even years. Our inter-connectedness is an asset.

When we live so close, it makes sense to get along. To get along, we need to communicate. To communicate effectively, we need to understand each other. Conflict arises through miscommunication which, in turn, leads to misunderstanding. These are simple and obvious truths. They are difficult to maintain and hold in place effectively.

What is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is one part of the Canadian Constitution. The Constitution is a set of laws containing the basic rules about how our country operates. For example, it contains the powers of the federal government and those of the provincial governments in Canada.
The Charter sets out those rights and freedoms that Canadians believe are necessary in a free and democratic society. Some of the rights and freedoms contained in the Charter are:
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* freedom of expression
  • the right to a democratic government
  • the right to live and seek employment anywhere in Canada
  • legal rights of persons accused of crimes
  • Aboriginal peoples’ rights
  • The right to equality, including the equality of men and women
  • The right to use either of Canada’s official languages
  • The right of French and English linguistic minorities to an
    education in their language
  • The protection of Canada’s multicultural heritage

Before The Charter came into effect, other Canadian laws protected many of the rights and freedoms that are now brought together in it. One example is the Canadian Bill or Rights, which Parliament enacted in 1960. The Charter differs from these laws by being part of the Constitution of Canad
Human rights and citizenship education in schools should be based on following principles:

  • the importance of reaffirming or developing a
    sense of identity and self-esteem
  • valuing all pupils and addressing inequality
    within and outside school
  • acknowledging the importance of relevant values,
    attitudes and personal and social education
  • willingness to learn from the experiences of others
    from around the world
  • relevance to young people’s interests and needs
  • supporting and increasing young peoples’
    motivation to effect change
  • citizenship education should be an ethos
    permeating all areas of school life
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Why teach it?
* the world we live in is unequal and citizenship promotes
  • the challenging and changing of this inequality
  • we live in a diverse society, and citizenship gives youth
    the tools to counter ignorance and intolerance
  • citizenship enables the challenging of misinformation and
    stereotyped views that exist
  • We live in an interdependent world and citizenship encourages
    us to recognize our responsibilities toward each other
  • citizenship is about flexibility and adaptability as well as a
    positive image of the future
  • Citizenship acknowledges that we have the power as individuals,
    each of us can change things and each of us has choices
    about how we behave
  • Teaching citizenship has a positive impact on students

Do Citizens have rights? If so, what are they?
“…The General Assembly proclaims This Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.”

For example:

  • Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
  • Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty
    and security of person.
  • Article 4: No one shall be held in
    slavery or servitude; slavery
    and the slave trade shall be
    prohibited in all their forms.
  • Article 5: No one shall be
    subjected to torture or to cruel,
    inhuman or degrading treatment
    or punishment.
  • Article 6: Everyone has the right to
    recognition everywhere
    as a person before the law.
  • Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest,
    detention or exile.
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In all, there are 30 Articles that comprise the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights

With Rights, however, come Responsibilities:

* Understand and obey international laws
  • Participate in democratic political systems
  • Vote in elections
  • Allow others to enjoy their rights and freedoms
  • Appreciate and help preserve the world’s cultural heritage
  • Acquire knowledge and understanding of people and places around the world
  • Become stewards of the environment
  • Speak out against social injustice, discrimination and racism
  • Challenge institutional thinking when it abrogates human rights

“Whether we live together in confidence and cohesion, with more faith and pride in ourselves and less self-doubt and hesitation; strong in the conviction that the destiny of Canada is to unite, not divide; sharing in cooperation, not in separation or in conflict; respecting our past and welcoming our future.”—Lester B. Pearson
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