Some Amazing Questions: Follow up on Black Friday Lesson

I had great conversations that carried into today after the Black Friday lesson I did with them yesterday. We spent the second half of today using the Right Question Institute’s Question Formulation Technique to move further with deeper inquiry into the issues raised by this lesson and to help us answer our essential questions for the unit: How democratic is the US? & Does my vote count?

My students came up with some incredible questions, which means I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed with even beginning to think about how to move forward.  I’m leaning towards letting them make that decision (democratically) tomorrow.  Here are their questions, which I’ve categorized.

Questions about Democracy

  • How democratic does the government consider itself?
  • What makes something democratic?
  • Is democratic being liberal or conservative?
  • If we have democracy do we have to be socialists?
  • What makes the US democratic?
  • If our government is capitalist, how can we expect the government to be democratically successful?
  • Can the US be democratic without a capitalistic system?

Questions about Voting

  • Why would a democracy want an electoral college?
  • How much of the 99% votes?
  • Can my vote get canceled out?
  • Are certain votes rules out?
  • What happens when we can’t decide with votes?
  • What limitations do voters face?
  • Should the US give workers a voice?
  • Do only rich people’s votes count?
  • Who is in charge of making votes count?
  • Whose vote really counts?
  • Does the rich vote count more?
  • Does age matter when talking about voting?
  • How does capitalism play into voting?
  • What are the demographics of voters?
  • How does the voting system work?
  • Does the youth vote actually count?
  • Do you think at the age of 18 you are capable of making decisions that can effect the US?
  • Why would the people that usually don’t vote be motivated to vote?
  • Do you think when our generation votes our type of government will change?

Questions about how the Government Works

  • Where is the government when these events happen?
  • How is the government run through parties?
  • Is the country more liberal or conservative?
  • Who declares if the country is Republican or Democratic?
  • Should a state be labeled Democratic or Republican?
  • How can a president change his political views during his presidency?
  • How does the democratic government work in the US?
  • How much power should one person have in a government?

Questions about History

  • Was it necessary for capitalism or democracy to come first for the second one to happen?
  • Does capitalism cause democracy?
  • What was the first type of government the US had?

Questions about Laws

  • Why is pepper spray legal when police use it?
  • Why didn’t the government get involved with the aggressive shoppers?
  • Why is it okay for shoppers to camp out and not for protesters?
  • Why is it okay for cops to pepper spray people in NY if pepper spray is illegal?
  • What laws are they making?

Questions about the Police

  • If people are allowed to protest, why do police attack protesters for protesting?
  • Should police officers think about the rights of others?
  • How are citizens affected by police decisions?
  • Why do you think cops think they can do whatever they want?
  • Why did cops think it was right to pepper spray innocent protestors?

Questions about Values

  • Why is violence accepted during shopping by non-violent protesters are arrested for being democratic?
  • Why are they worried about safety when it comes to protesting but every year a person gets hurt during Black Friday sales and they don’t stop that?
  • How do the conflicts between capitalism and democracy affect the nation?
  • How can we balance the ideals of democracy and capitalism?
  • What brings more conflict to the US, capitalism or democracy?

General Questions

  • Do the majority fully agree?
  • Is “the younger you are, the less you know” really true?
  • Can we manage to have safer Black Fridays?

Questions about Economics

  • Why is it better for business to be privatized?
  • What would the US economy be with a Communist government?
  • What would you want to pursue other than a capitalist lifestyle?
  • What does how much we pay people show the values of our society?
  • How do we eliminate poverty without becoming communist?

Question Comparing to Other Places

  • Do you think Democracy here is different from anywhere?
  • Do you think capitalism is different anywhere else except New York?
  • Why hasn’t there been another form of government?
  • Which countries are democratic?
  • What are the other practices of other democratic countries?
  • Is there a way to make our country more democratic?

3 thoughts on “Some Amazing Questions: Follow up on Black Friday Lesson

  1. Stephene Lazar
    These questions are great.
    Did you ask all these questions ?
    Are they asked by students
    Or both
    Did you edit the questions of studentsb

    I cannot comprehend that such a beautiful chain of questions can be asked only by you .

    Can I ask those question in Turkey to my students and to my people.
    Can I make a arrangement with related organisations in Turkey .
    All those questions should be asked for the whole world .
    Thanks billion .


    1. All the comments came from my students, who are 12th graders in Brooklyn, NY. I did clarify the language of a handful, but didn’t change the meaning of any of them. Please feel free to share them widely. I agree; it’s a pretty impressive list.


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