This is a role playing exercise designed to enhance critical thinking and active listening as tools to discover the difference between “truth” and “exaggeration” in political speech. Group members will be assigned a role/script to read and others will interpret what’s being said.
The 5 P’s of Political Speech are:
- Platitudes/Pandering – General moral statements that don’t say anything new. These statements play to people’s existing biases and don’t offer specific actions the candidate will take.
- Pants on Fire – A false claim or statement–a lie.
- Pivot – Briefly responds, but shifts to a different topic. This can be a strategy to keep the focus on the candidate’s priorities.
- Pertinent – Directly responds to the question. The statement demonstrates understanding about the role of the office or knowledge about the issue.
- Potshot – An unfounded or irrelevant criticism of an opponent’s character that doesn’t impact job performance (like gender or religion).
- Candidate scripts
- As a group, the facilitator talks through each of the 5 Ps. The facilitator selects five people to act convincingly as candidates. This may be done in advance, allowing group members an opportunity to become familiar with their script.
- Each “candidate” will address the same issue and will be asked the same question.
- The facilitator asks each candidate the question.
- The actor responds using their script, demonstrating a specific “P.”
- Following each roleplay, the facilitator surveys the class to determine which “P” they think the candidate displayed.
- The facilitator tells the group the correct answer, and why it is correct. Discussion should be encouraged.
- Repeat this process for each candidate.
Each of the scripts below will respond to this question:
What will each of you do to improve education in Detroit?
“Hello ______ High School! It is awesome to be in these hallowed halls where so many greats have passed through. Public school education is important to the success of our country, and you are all leading the way. I wish there was a school like this where I lived when I was a teenager. Together we can create a great education system where everyone can have this experience. You’re here because you’re bright and special. You are what America needs. Let’s hear it for ______ High School! Vote for me and I will make sure all students in all communities have this type of high school.”
“Good morning Detroit and ______ High School. High-quality education is imperative to the growth of America. Like healthcare and infrastructure, the United States can’t move forward without providing the best services to all of our citizens. Affordable health care will ensure all Americans can lead healthy productive lives, with the ability to pay bills without the need to choose between medication and food. And fixing our crumbling roads and bridges will create jobs and enhance our status throughout the world. Vote for me to create the foundation necessary to heighten America’s opportunities for all.”
“Good morning students. You are fortunate to experience quality education every day. Contrary to what my opponent has demonstrated in his callous communications about public and charter schools, I know where the great schools and smart kids are. My challenger is small-minded and doesn’t understand the need to stop tweeting his message and live in the real world with the rest of us. His idea of quality education is a little red schoolhouse in the woods where all the kids look the same. I bring knowledge and empathy, while he brings blank books and insensitivity. You don’t need someone who talks a lot and says nothing. Vote for me, and I’ll have your back. Get ready for change!”
“Good morning ______ High School. It is a pleasure to speak with a group of engaged young people, at a school designed to expand your horizons and offer the highest expectations. All schools in every community should provide the same opportunities as provided here. My plan shifts budgets and increases taxes on the wealthy, pinpointing those increases to education. I will also appoint a qualified Secretary of Education with no conflicts of interest, and with concern for all of our children. I propose a change in standardized tests as well as the use of those tests. Administrators, teachers, parents and students will have input into the process of educating our young people – understanding high-quality education is a goal across the board, but must be administered based on the challenges and circumstances of each community. These are lofty goals, I know. But when it comes to our kids, our expectations cannot be too high. Vote for me, and I will work with both sides of the aisle to create and implement processes for high quality education throughout America.”
Pants on Fire:
“Good morning ______ High School. It is great being with you today. You represent some of the brightest minds in the nation. As I mold my education plan, it will be modeled after this school’s process – which has been so successful. You have had the highest SAT and ACT scores of any public school your size in the nation. You have had more college graduates with advanced degrees than any other urban public school. While tests and college are not the sole measures of success, they are meaningful in how we gauge the impact of the education system. My goal is that all schools excel as you have here. Beyond tests, you have proven to be great citizens, as you also outnumber students with your community involvement hours, which enhance a well-rounded experience. Thank you for all that you do. I’m so proud of you all, and look forward to ______ High School being the benchmark for my plans for high-quality education. A vote for me is indeed a vote for our future.”