Historians have not looked kindly upon Chinese Emperor Duzong, believing he could have done something—anything—to prevent the fall of the Song dynasty. But how would this 13th century leader fare in Santa Catalina's seventh-grade history classroom, where students brought him to trial on charges of abuse of power and neglecting the people?
As part of a lesson on ancient Chinese history, students in two classes took on the role of the defense, prosecution, judges, and Emperor Duzong himself to determine whether he ignored his duties in the face of a growing Mongol threat.
The trials verged on debate at times as the students demonstrated a lot of passion and interest in making their points, but in the end they found him guilty on both counts. One class sentenced him to five years in solitary confinement and stripped him of his belongings, while the other class took away his title and forced him to pay back a significant portion of money taken in taxes.
The emperor's behavior was clearly a hot topic in an engaging exercise that made history come alive!