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Rights vs. Responsibilities

October 01, 2012

Students perform research to distinguish between rights and responsibilities.


To understand the relationship between rights and responsibilities in a democratic society

Special requirements:


Time required:

At least one hour of outside research and 30 minutes of in-class reflection


Ask students to read the following paragraph and research the differences between rights and responsibilities and the relationship between the two.

Living in a democratic society we have many rights that we often take for granted. We frequently fail to understand that along with rights come many responsibilities. If we do not fulfill our responsibilities, we jeopardize our rights. For example, although most of us take for granted the right of trial by jury, the majority of us complain and look for ways of getting out of serving on a jury. We want the right but we are not willing to accept the responsibility. Good citizens understand the balance between rights and responsibilities and are willing to accept and fulfill the responsibilities inherent in a democratic society.

Sample reflection:

Ask students to list as many rights as they can think of that we have in a democratic society. Ask them also to list as many responsibilities as possible. Finally, ask them to think of examples of how rights are dependent on citizens upholding their responsibilities, as well as examples of instances where we have the responsibility to give up some rights for the public good.


Assignment adapted from Integrating Civic Responsibility into the Curriculum.