In one of my very first blog posts ever, I spoke to the rules I used to have in my kindergarten classroom. See Rules-Schools Have Too Many! I agree with one of my commenters that these are rules for life.
- Be Safe.
- Be Considerate.
- Be a Thinker.
And, I believe that if all people followed those three rules throughout their lives, we would have a democratic society that honored individuality without the inadvertent consequence that our schools currently have–that many students are turned off to learning through our test prep, our “training” them in how to beat multiple choice tests, and the very brief shallow glimpses we allow them into the basic tenets of American history and the foundations of our country.
(BTW, please remember, a multiple-choice test taking strategy being taught students is that if you have no clue, you choose the longest answer.)
Would you rather your child use flash cards to learn the answer to this question,
Which of the following documents began with “We The People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union…”
a.) the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America
b.) The Gettysburg Address
c.) The Declaration of Independence
d. ) none of the above
Or would you rather your children participate in a discussion–or role play–or debate–or make a web page–or podcast–or write a blog entry– that used the Interactive Constitution and discussed
a.) who the founding fathers meant by “We The People”
b.) What the 16, 19th and 26th amendment did for the phrase “We The People”, and
c.) why we say the constitution is a living document.
Wouldn’t you like your son or daughter to learn about the Constitution by thinking of it as “The Words We Live By“? (That’s the name of an annotated guide to the Constitution, by the way.)
What does that conversation have to do with the students we teach? Well, if they UNDERSTOOD DEEPLY the Constitution’s cornerstones and the foundational beliefs behind it, wouldn’t that go a long way to provide the structures for a democratic school?
And, since language DOES matter, and the language of both the Preamble and the Constitution is studied carefully to determine the meaning and purpose behind them, then shouldn’t we do the same as educators and think carefully when we describe what we want for our students?