Democracy and the Rule of Law

Lesson One: What is Democracy?

Students will learn about the concept of democracy. This lesson will be a foundation for understanding the norms of modern western liberal democracy.

1. Brainstorm with students what democracy means to them. Write varied answers on the board.

2. Engage in a conversation that narrows the list to two definitions.

3. Have students vote on what they believe to be the best definition of the two.
a) Did the winning definition receive all of the votes?
b) What does the victory and the process that led to it tell us about democracy?

4. To better establish the idea that it is hard to narrow down a precise definition of democracy, distribute and read the handout Defining Democracy.
• It is often said that in a democracy, the majority gets its way but the minority has its say. Why is this principle important to democratic rule?

5. Assign Think questions. Teachers may wish to break students into discussion
groups to tackle each question.

Case Study
6. Indigenous People and the Right to Vote explores the slow expansion of voting rights for Indigenous people in Canada’s federal elections.

Further Exploration
7. Teachers wishing to more deeply explore definitions of democracy should check out Lesson 1.1: What is Democracy of Our Government, Our Election.

Defining Democracy


Indigenous People and the Right to Vote

Case Study

Seen Oppenheimer?