Law Study: Hands-on Autocratic Rule!

When I shared with the children what I had planned to help them to understand autocratic rule they were a little excited!  In fact they nagged me incessantly because they wanted to do the activity immediately.  Everyday they plotted and planned and nagged until I finally gave in and we proceeded with the activity.  I’m not sure one should have so much fun learning about such a serious subject!

DSC_0201king

The purpose of the activities was to demonstrate to the children the difference between autocracy and democracy.  I wanted each child to not just know, but to experience what it felt like to be ordered around, to order around, to debate and to vote.  It was decided that each child would have half an hour as king, where they got to wear a crown and have their every order followed.  They were also allowed to punish the perpetrator of any disobedience.  I honestly have not laughed so much for weeks.  My children have some of the best imaginations and we all had so much fun!  It was incredibly interesting for me to watch how they each approached being king and subject, and how much each king differed in the way they ruled.

They had been plotting various representative forms of punishment all week and had decided duck tape would be used across the mouth to serve as a tongue cut out, over the eye as an eye cut out, taping an arm to their back as an arm cut off and fingers taped together to mean that their fingers had been chopped off.  Once these punishments were executed they still had to carry out their duties, regardless of whether they were handless, eyeless, tongue-less or indeed all three-less!

First to be king was C11:

C11 as king
C11 as king

Of course the first thing she did was to tax everyone (I had set an upper limit of £1 per person, per king)

The minions handing over their tax to the king
The minions handing over their tax to the king

and having received the taxes due she ordered T12 to go and buy her some sweeties from the shop, which she devoured in their entirety without offering any to anyone else.

I believe L11 must have been a very naughty subject as she seemed to receive many, many punishments during C11’s reign:

Tongue cut off
Tongue cut off
Hand cut off
Hand cut off
Eye gouged out
Eye gouged out

It was not, it seemed, L11’s day.  However, she fared better than T12, who had his head chopped off:

T12 had his chopped off, which L11 was then ordered to pick up and drag off to be buried.
T12 had his chopped off, which L11 was then ordered to pick up and drag off to be buried.

Next to be king was T12:

He required full submission
He required full submission

The first thing he did was to ask for taxes, and then put his sisters to work serving him, whilst he played mine craft on the computer:

DSC_0183king

I liked his style.  He focused on achieving as much comfort for himself (in the form of snacks and strawberry milkshakes and computer games) as he could, keeping his sisters busy and running around after him for the whole half an hour, and yet gave out absolutely no punishments, bar one to me for giggling at him:

I had my tongue cut out.  no more laughing for me then.
I had my tongue cut out. No more laughing for me then.

L11 had learnt her lesson and had decided to be a model subject becoming very obedient and servantile.  T12 said she was the perfect person to have waiting on him.

It was then L11’s turn:

Regal L11
Regal L11

L11’s reign was very interesting.  She taxed and bought sweeties, and required absolute obedience and reverence:

L11 receiving her taxes
L11 receiving her taxes
Bowing down
Bowing down
kissing feet
kissing feet

She demanded much hard work from them, choosing to order them to do her night-time chores (clever girl!), beating them if they were slack in any way:

beating C11 whilst she hoovers
beating C11 whilst she hoovers
And T12 whilst he sweeps and mops for her
And T12 whilst he sweeps and mops for her

And yet (probably because she was fair, kind and rewarded her subjects with sweeties) L11 was voted in as favourite king and favourite peasant.

And then it was my turn.  I had given much thought to how I could best teach my children about the rigors of autocratic ruler ship, and had decided to put them hard to work in ways which would make them feel distinctly uncomfortable.  For the next 30 minutes they had NO rights!

A good look, don't you think?  A little small, but I claimed that was because I was too important to wear the mere crown passed down to me from the lesser kings!
A good look, don’t you think? A little small, but I claimed that was because I was too important to wear the mere crown passed down to me from the lesser kings!

The girls were told they had ten minutes to clean the kitchen, whilst T12 was ordered to move the concrete slabs from the drive way to the patio:

Within minutes the moans began...
Within minutes the moans began…

It seemed everyone (bar L11 who was still trying to maintain her best peasant ever accolade) was desperate for a wee!  Literally, I was told if they were not allowed to go now they would wet themselves.  I calmly told them to go ahead, and to please tidy up after themselves.  It got to the point of almost pain (apparently – if the peasants were to be believed).  But I would not budge.  They were to do the work I had set forth for them to do.  They had no rights anymore.

Minutes later T12 came rushing into the kitchen, his bladder miraculously forgotten, proclaiming that the hens were free and Oscar was chasing after them, and perleese could the girls come and help him SAVE THE CHICKENS!!  He put just the right amount of anxiety into his voice, for I did not expect a thing, naively agreeing to the girls joining him to round-up the chickens.

Never again will I trust my children, for within minutes they had collected weapons and were waging a peasant’s revolt on me in an attempt to de-throne me:

Peasant's revolt (staged because the first time they attacked it was so unexpected that I didn't have my camera at the ready)
Peasant’s revolt (staged because the first time they attacked it was so unexpected that I didn’t have my camera at the ready)
I was successfully de-throned and they all breathed a sigh of relief and went and emptied their bladders!
I was successfully de-throned and they all breathed a sigh of relief and went and emptied their bladders!

Ha!  Loved it!  I had no power, but the children had shown that a person could only be pushed so far before there were consequences to be had.  I was quite proud of those children of mine, and the whole experience had been a huge success.

Tomorrow I will post about our democratic experience.

   Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

17 comments

  1. Excellent lesson! It’s interesting to observe how each one of you demonstrated the different aspects of autocratic rule, and took turns to be both the perpetrator and victim of such rule.

    1. Yes, I too loved the revolt. I’d been battling giggles the whole way through the activity, but when they all came at me with home made weapons, I lost all control and just dissolved into laughter. It really did me the world of good!

  2. This is just the greatest post! I couldn’t wait to share it with my children. They had one BIG concern – Duct tape! Did it hurt when they pulled it off?????
    I am writing this on my lesson plan for next year. We have talked about this topic, but we have never done anything like this.
    Bravo to L. Brilliant use of authority. Triple bravo to the children for revolting against you! That is so funny.
    This post has made me laugh over and over every time I think about it. What a great way to instill learning. I think they will always remember it.

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