Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Civics 101

Back in the days when I went to high school (you know, three years after we came down from the trees and two years after we discovered fire...) we had a class that was mandatory for all graduates, and that class was called "Civics".

Civics was separate from all other so-called Social Studies classes, in that we learned about government at all levels, and especially about the US Constitution. And those are lessons that have informed my world view about politics and about the necessity to get involved and stay involved.

In the ensuing nearly half-century(!) that has passed since then (Jeez, where did all that time go???) the teaching of Civics has kind of fallen by the wayside, having been subsumed into other courses, or -- more likely -- just not taught at all.

So it was with great pleasure that I read this story from Bremerton, a small city just 60 miles or so north of me:

Clutching the microphone, Rhys Kerr found himself in the hot seat Tuesday over the separation of church and state.
A majority of Americans are Christian. So, Emalene Renna asked, could Congress enact a law requiring everyone to be a Christian?
Rhys hesitated, but didn't appear nervous. Staring into the distance, he replied that such an action would unconstitutional. A few seconds more of silence to gather his thoughts and Rhys said: "We have the freedom of religion so the government can't just say you have to be Christian." Besides, he added, the judicial branch would find the law unconstitutional.
"You really get it don't you? You really get the difference between the Constitution and the will of people," Renna said.
Rhys and the rest of his classmates in Rita Zipp-Dearey's fourth-/fifth-grade class at View Ridge Elementary in Bremerton were all on the hot seat at one point or another Tuesday.
As part of a mock congressional hearing, they argued for and against the elements of the Constitution and took questions from judges, including Renna, who is a retired school administrator and teacher, retired attorney Scott Smith and retired nurse Joyce Maddock.
[read more ]
Yeah, Rhys Kerr really gets it! Congrats to teacher Rita Zipp-Deary and the rest of the Bremerton school system for teaching Civics again, and especially for their focus on the issue that is nearest and dearest to me, the Separation of Church and State.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

They called it "Advanced Placement Government" for me in 1999. Not only did I have to wait till my senior year to get this class, it was only available to honors students. Which meant the school thought the C-student unwashed masses were unworthy of learning why they have the freedom to be underachieving sheeple. Now schools probably don't even teach this curriculum because we have to focus on higher math 60% of teachers don't have a degree to teach in order to compete with the rest of the 1st world who still make us look stupid. I'm moving to Canada when I'm 40, I'm done...