Wednesday, November 4, 2015

When learning sticks!

Something happened at school that made me smile and I just had to share.

We've been reading and discussing some rather dense material about democracy for a few days now.  The kids have struggled with understanding where Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero stood on  this issue.  This is hard stuff for sixth graders!

Yesterday, we started a conversation about whether they should have a say in what happens to them at school.  Most thought they should, and identified with a student who said, "School is our 'world.'  We spend 12 or 13 years here and we should have a say in how things are run."  But others recognized that students don't always make the best decisions, and that they don't always think about the future. Two hours of recess might not benefit them all (although some days, I think it might!)  And then we talked about how these ancient philosophers had had similar misgivings about people, and those thoughts shaped their beliefs about democracy.  And ultimately, those beliefs impacted our country's founders.

Today, as we were heading out to the buses, four boys came up to me and announced, "We've formed our own country!"  They proceeded to explain that they had elected a president, a judge, one senator and one representative; Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branches was taken care of!  Weekly elections  would give everyone a turn in office.

I was smiling at their enthusiasm, but marveling that they'd gotten this idea of "government by the people," picking away at this concept until it made sense to their 11- and 12-year old minds.

I didn't plan these lessons because it was Election Day today, that happened by coincidence.  But how cool is that?

I hope you exercised your rights as a citizen and voted this week.  Democracy is not a spectator sport!


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