Participation matters. Continuing their efforts to Get Out The Vote, this week, the Upper School Democracy Squad wrote postcards calling on relatives, friends, and neighbors to head to the polls on Tuesday. Some took the cards out trick-or-treating, a student-generated idea to enlarge the meaning of the holiday.
Now, more on what’s been happening in the classrooms this week, as students and teachers consider the complex, dynamic, vital topic of participatory democracy.
This week, 2nd graders delved into deeper discussion of the significance of voting, talking about what sorts of things people vote for, how they vote, the role of privacy in voting, and the power one holds in exercising the vote. They also considered the importance of making informed decisions.
The 4th Grade has been studying early US government, including exploration of how the issue of slavery divided the country, with the Civil War as a result. Coincidentally, the class became divided when some of the students suggested they institute a “cubby cop” to give tickets when a cubby was too messy. Some wanted it; others did not. Because of the class’s ongoing discussions of democracy, this became a “teachable moment.”
Those who didn’t want a cubby cop seceded from the class. (Teacher Julie Seyfert-Lillis planted the seed, reminding this was how the South responded to their firm disagreement with the North about slavery.) In Julie’s words, “It was clear the learning was deep, with students fully engaged, thinking deeply, articulating their points with maturity and passion, stepping into positions of leadership, finding compassion, and speaking their truth in the face of opposition.”
6th Grade spends time studying Greek and Roman history and culture. This month, students combined past and present by researching individual Roman emperors and creating reelection campaigns that would best highlight their background and achievements. Campaign posters are now up in the hallway, and next week, the emperors will debate on several key issues of the day.