Living Graphs – political alignment


PartiboksavslinjeMy students tend to have a hard time wrapping their heads around the idea of using a scale to visualise political alignment. They need to know about political scales for new- (post-materialistic) and old-politics (materialistic) and ideology.


I decided that it might help if they build the scale themself instead of just looking at it in a book or me drawing it on the board. So I got them to make a living graph out of sticky-notes on their tables. They get to talk about their placements and get textile input to help them remember it. I always try to create lessons where it is the students who are active rather than me.


  • Divide the class into pairs and give them a stack of sticky-notes
  • Get them to write all the party letters/names on the notes
  • Explain how the students are sorting the parties and get them to put the sticky-notes on a scale – for instance with the most socialist party on the left and the liberal on the right on their table. (They are not allowed to look up the placement in the book).*
  • Let them compare with the group next to them and/or check their ordering.
  • Afterward they would get a different sorting criteria.




* We had read about and talked about the political parties beforehand so this was both a review of that material and teached the new concept of the scale.

Taking it further

Det_nye_pol_landskab__lille__03After they sorted the political parties on old-politics left/right and by new-politics left/right scala, they made a coordinate system out of their sticky-notes. We talked about the fact that some parties are quite liberal while being quite post-materialist leftish. We used that to talk about which political issues that was most important today and to talk about why there are no old-left/new-right parties and about what such a party would stand for.

I think this would work really well as a visualisation of political opinions on a number of different subjects. For instance the different political parties opinion on EU. Or a number of political commentators’ opinions.

For more on the subject of living graphs read Russel Tarr’s article.

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Sidsel Pedersen

Danish. High school teacher. Cand. mag in history & social studies. Reader of SF&F literature, roleplayer, gamer and happy home cook.

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