YOU, THE POLICE, THE LAW
This project, YOU, THE POLICE, THE LAW, is a series of simulations and games designed to encourage positive contacts and discourage negative contacts. It is based on the principle that students learn best when they learn by experience - they learn by doing and by having fun - by participating in exciting, challenging, and realistic simulations. It builds on the energy and desire for competition among young people. Just like sports, it provides a vehicle to enable them to channel their aggression into challenging and positive pursuits.
This program provides students with a working knowledge of the criminal justice system. It describes police work, highlights the functions of the police, examines both citizens' rights and responsibilities , and emphasizes the importance of civic action.
There are a number of factors that contribute to the success of YOU, THE POLICE, THE LAW:
1. The program goes behind the masks of students by making learning fun. It actively engages students in role playing police officers and members of the public who encounter the police.
2. It develops students' skills in:
· interactive and collaborative learning
· problem solving
3. It helps identify the causes of conflict between the public and police and enables students to brainstorm and implement positive solutions.
4. It improves students' critical thinking skills by requiring them to define problems, examine alternative solutions, and implement decisions.
5. Hopefully, it improves student attitudes toward the police by promoting:
· a greater understanding of police work
· a greater respect for the police
· an increased respect for the rights of others
· a greater sense of community
· a commitment to the peaceful resolution of conflict
YOU, THE POLICE, THE LAW will be conducted in selected school districts and youth organizations. It is recommended for grades 6-8. The program is divided into a series of activities ranging from one to five sessions (each session lasts three hours). Thus, the program could be conducted over several weeks or months depending on the schedule and interests of the schools. It could also be conducted at any time of the year - for instance, at a special camp during the summer.
The school district would select the students. They could be school leaders, kids-in-trouble, kids-on-the-bubble, apathetic students, or a combination. The ideal number of participants is 20-30.
YOU, THE POLICE, THE LAW is a positive step to address a major problem in contemporary U.S. society - the increase of crime, particularly violent crime, among young people. The project emphasizes interactive, collaborative, participatory and "hands-on" learning. The use of college students as mentors or advisers provides plenty of one-on-one attention for the participating students. It keeps them from feeling overwhelmed and helps them develop confidence in themselves, which inevitably leads to full involvement in the simulation, and thus, an intense learning experience. A "train the trainers" segment enables the program to continue at the school or organization after the initial program has been completed. One or more teachers or staff will be trained to be future directors of the program. Student leaders can serve as counselors in future runs of the program. This will produce a synergistic effect, whereby the students will learn from each other.
There are two separate evaluation tools in the program:
1. The perceptions of the grade school students toward police will be measured in the pre and post tests.
2. The "mentor and learn" approach for the college students will be evaluated by both the Learning Systems Design Team at Penn State University and the Schreyer Institute for Innovations in Learning.