Today my Year 11 English class presented a mock trial of Tom Robinson from “To Kill A Mockingbird” (Harper Lee). It was not designed to be a ‘dramatic’ production but rather an investigation of the text we had been studying. I had only allowed a double period for preparation, one rehearsal and then they worked toward a “LIVE” presentation to a couple of other classes. Their showcase demonstrated depth and a solid ownership of their characters, especially given the short amount of time they had to prepare.
It took about 45 minutes to complete with court proceedings. bailiff, Judge Taylor, Prosecution (and assistant), Defence (our beloved Atticus and assistant) and testimony from Link Deas, Heck Tate, Robert Ewell, Mayella Ewell and Thomas Robinson (the accused). On reflection, students always rise to a sense of PERFORMANCE and AUDIENCE and having the visiting classes and additional staff attend was a great bonus.
We decided to have two juries for this case; a 1930′s Jury (who of course found Robinson guilty) and a 2010 Jury of Year 8 students who found him not guilty. I think the real value of these activities is the discussion afterwards. Students tended to demonise the attitudes of 1930′s/1960′s Americans but a discussion of indigenous attitudes or ‘boat people’ certainly raises some interesting comparisons – just a little scratch below the surface so to speak.
I haven’t experimented with a Mock Trial before but would definitely do so again. Would strongly consider something similar for a camp activity – the students were committed to their roles and have displayed a strong sense of ownership of the text in their discussions. If anyone wants the Mock Trial Pack I generated – please just ask, I am happy to know it may be a duplicated activity.