Lesson One: Thinking About Laws

Students will consider how laws are part of everyday life.

FL1(e) - Identify examples of ways in which law is a part of everyday life in Canada.

1. We collectively create laws and legal systems so that we have a formal understanding of what we expect from ourselves and others in our society. To build this understanding, as a class read Laws: An Introduction.

• What does it mean to be an individual as part of a larger society?
• Can a society be free and democratic if we do not consider all people to be equal?
• Even if we consider all people to be equal, does this mean that we must consider all ideas to be equally valid? How do we distinguish good ideas from bad ideas?

2. Have students consider Discuss questions, either individually or in small groups.

3. To expand on the ideas about the purpose of laws as discussed in the handout, engage the class in an activity to think about the law in our lives. Draw a line on the board. At one end write birth. At the other write death. Ask students to think of various life events or milestones, and write them chronologically along the line. Some examples could include:
• walk
• drive
• graduate
• work
• marry
• move
• retire
• death

4. Ask students to now think of unwritten rules or norms that are associated with the life events on the timeline. Place answers underneath the line. Some examples could include:
• birth: congratulate parents
• walk: keep to the right on sidewalks
• drive: don’t honk at pedestrians
• graduate: attend ceremony
• work: be respectful to customers
• marry: exchange rings
• move: buy pizza for helpers
• retire: save money
• death: express condolences

5. Have students think of laws related to those life events, and label them underneath the line. Some examples include:
• birth: register name
• walk: crosswalk laws
• drive: licensing
• graduate: educational standards
• work: labour laws
• marry: marriage laws
• move: contract laws
• retire: public pensions
• death: wills and estates

6. Discuss the norms and laws on the resulting lines. Questions for discussion could include:
• How do you learn about the norms or unwritten rules? Is it necessary to follow them?
• How do you learn about the laws? Is it necessary to follow them?
• Do norms sometimes evolve into laws?
• Do laws unnecessarily interfere with the right to live one’s life as one chooses?
• When do society’s needs override an individual’s right to do what they choose?
• What would life be like without laws?


7. For case studies on the purpose of laws in our society, check out:
The Purpose of Laws: Case Studies from Lesson 1.2 in Our Government, Our Election
The Great Stink of London in The Bathroom Barrister

8. To build an understanding of how laws are democratic constructs, created by us through the governments we choose, check out The PLEA: Democracy and the Rule of Law.

Laws: An Introduction