Tag Archives: constitution

GOOD CITIZENSHIP SHOULD BE TAUGHT IN THE CLASSROOM

Image courtesy of emptyglass / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of emptyglass / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The standards set up by the founding fathers in the Declaration, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, represent the core tenets of Judeo-Christian culture, but distilled in secular fashion so that everyone, believers or non-believers, have the same standard of ethics and morality. Common sense dictates decency, because without decency a society unravels. The last seven commandments and the Golden Rule are actually philosophic concepts that have been codified by religious doctrine after they existed for thousands of years, before any of the religions that exist today were even conceived.

Good standards are always based in free will, because without willing participation in the precepts of civilization, there can be no society. Examining, studying, and understanding those principles strengthens citizenship. Consequently, all children should be taught these standards, encouraging good citizenship in the classroom, so that when they grow up they will carry those standards into the world with them, ensuring and maintaining an ethical and peaceful society, generation after generation, securing the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.

Religions teach rational standards for society by teaching the commandments. But they are not the only way to teach the standards incorporated in those commandments. The principles embodied in the commandments make sense outside the context of a religion. Thou shalt not steal, and Thou shalt not kill, are standards for rational and effective society and should be taught to children because they are good standards to follow. But they ought to be taught as philosophic standards, very simply, by explaining why it is wrong to steal or kill. Honoring thy father and thy mother is a good principle that reaches far beyond the dictates of any religion. It encourages observance of good tradition that lends cohesiveness to generations. The Chinese, whose culture is much older than ours, treats the family as a profoundly important unit in society, and elders are revered, as they should be, for their long years of experience. They know much more than children do, and children ought to be told to listen and respect them. Not even Communism was able to destroy the unit of the family in China. It is too strong to destroy once it is deeply rooted in a society.

Children ought to be held to standards of good behavior in the classroom because it is a good model for society. Being polite, peaceable and charitable to one’s classmates is good practice for being polite, peaceable and charitable to one’s neighbors and fellow citizens. Discipline is necessary to maintain order in a classroom, just as it is necessary to maintain order in society. But rules for classroom behavior and laws for civil behavior are not demands for blind obedience to authority. They, too, are a distillation of principles of sane, moral and ethical conduct, consequently the building blocks of good society and good citizenship.

Permissiveness in the classroom does not lead to greater freedom, because without a level of good conduct, no one could focus on learning, which is the purpose of the classroom. Instead, we should return to the traditional classroom, where good conduct and good citizenship are inherent in every class being taught, from arithmetic, to geography, to history.

These principles are not difficult to comprehend, although they may be more difficult to maintain where groups of children, with their natural tendencies toward less controlled conduct is a kind of norm. But they must be maintained, because without them, education is ineffective and the traditions of good citizenship which were once the backbone of American society will disappear.

FJ Rocca is an independent, conservative writer/blogger of fiction and non-fiction, most interested in the philosophy of American conservatism. Clarity is more important than eloquence, but truth is vital to human discourse. You can find out more about FJ over at http://www.candiddiscourse.com/.

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Filed under Educational Philosophy, Guest Post, Values and Ethics

CIVICS LESSON #10: A GOVERNMENT OF LAWS AND NOT A GOVERNMENT OF PERSONALITIES

Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration

Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration

John Adams’s oft quoted phrase “a government of laws and not of men” has very specific meaning. Our nation was founded by wise men who realized that a government of laws was stable, but a government of human beings, of personalities, was not. Personalities differ from person to person, as do ambitions, vision, ideas, education and depth. What one person believes may change from time to time thereby also making what he does about what he believes change, as well.

George Washington, probably the most powerful personality of his day, was once offered the option of being a king or a president. He chose to be president and even limited his service to two terms. Washington, in his wisdom, recognized the principle embodied in Adams’s phrase, because kings do not rule consistently, while a president elected by the people on the promise that he will maintain established laws, will be most consistent.

A body of laws tends to remain stable, providing those chosen to enforce those laws, i.e., the elected and appointed government officials and bureaucrats, pledge scrupulous allegiance to uphold and preserve them. In fact, when sworn in, elected officials take such a pledge before assuming office. But the principles embodied in our founding documents are easily lost or transmuted when they take second place to a “leader” in whom vast power is invested to govern without paying scrupulous attention to the pledge he or she has taken. Despite having taken the pledge to uphold and protect the US Constitution and the laws derived from it, Barak Obama promised instead to fundamentally transform America.

Therein is the danger of electing a personal leader instead of a public servant. In such situations, personality trumps the humble promise to keep the nation as it was conceived and instead to fashion laws and policies to suit his intentions. Electing someone on the basis of personality is like saying, “Make up your mind and tell us what to do” rather than “Make sure you uphold all of my established rights and protect them from being stolen by an unscrupulous government.”

To avoid this very danger, the wise founders of our nation gave us a body of laws to ensure our great freedom and of all our rights as American citizens. The founding documents of the United States, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are the greatest documents ever conceived by man with respect to freedom and rights, because they chose the individual over government.

The practical fruits of the our system, the proof of its effectiveness and its value to civilization, have been two and a half centuries of freedom and wealth unprecedented in all of human history, not limited to those in political power, but spread among all people who possess energy and wit to pursue their own fortunes. But as Benjamin Franklin warned about keeping our republic, the Constitution and Bill of Rights can be lost to politicians with big, flashy personalities who make false promises. Therefore, as John Adams’s phrase tells us, we must have a government of laws and not of men.

FJ Rocca is an independent, conservative writer/blogger of fiction and non-fiction, most interested in the philosophy of American conservatism. Clarity is more important than eloquence, but truth is vital to human discourse. You can find out more about FJ over at http://www.candiddiscourse.com/.

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Filed under Civics Lessons, Guest Post, history education

COMBAT DIARIES #5: WHAT HAS AMERICA DONE FOR ME?

Image courtesy of emptyglass / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of emptyglass / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This is a guest post by Dana Casey.

It has been so many years since I taught in a school where the Pledge of Allegiance is a normal part of the morning procedures that can’t even remember how long it has been. This year the Pledge was made a part of daily morning announcements at my current school. I do not have a first period class; nonetheless, when the Pledge came over the intercom, I stood with my hand over my heart facing the flag in my empty room and pledged along with Mr. K who leads the school. The flag in my room is one that I purchased, because, just like so many other things, my school does not supply flags for classrooms. I think my room may be the only room in the school graced with the stars and stripes.

One day Mr. K was late getting to the announcements and so he delivered them during second period. I was taken by surprise and was in the middle of doing the drill. I scrambled to prepare the students and to give them quick instructions on my classroom policy. I admonished, “Here is my policy on the Pledge. You don’t have to stand or say the Pledge, but you must respect the moment and sit quietly while others pledge.” Mr. K started the Pledge; I stood with my hand on my heart and said it along with him, and not one — not ONE — student stood up with me.

When the Pledge was done, I looked at my students in disbelief. I said to the class that I was ashamed. I could not believe that not one student had enough pride in America to stand and say the pledge, but the more I thought about it I was not really surprised.

I completely respect someone’s right not to stand for the Pledge if he feels it goes against his beliefs. The freedom not to do such a thing is an important part of American freedoms. Actually, way back in 1973 when I was 12 years old, I alone in my class refuse to stand in protest of the Vietnam War. One wise teacher challenged me in way that I never forgot. He said that though he respected my right to refuse, he wondered if I actually understood exactly what I was protesting and whether I was sure I was making appropriate protest in response. I never forgot what he said and, after giving it some thought, I once again joined my classmates in stating the pledge.

In 1996, decades later, I remembered that intelligent encounter with that teacher when I had a few students who wouldn’t stand. I presented them the same challenge. One young man replied, “What has America ever done for me?” The first response that I gave to him was John Kennedy’s famous quote “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” Then I told him that he should go visit many other countries of the world and he would realize that our poor are their middle class and their poor were always going to be poor unlike in America where a man like Ben Carson could go from dire poverty to being an extremely wealthy and nationally admired man. He would then discover what America had to offer him. His only response was to snort in disbelief.

My current group of students didn’t care at all; they didn’t even throw out a challenge like that young man from earlier in my career. They didn’t refuse to stand up, they just couldn’t be bothered. But it is even worse than that. The students that I teach have no American identity at all. In fact, for most of their school career they have been given a decidedly anti-American education. Common Core will continue that anti-American indoctrination nationally (as I will be further revealing in an upcoming article).

Many of my high school students can quote from Malcolm X, “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock; Plymouth Rock landed on us.”, but they couldn’t give you a single quote from a single U.S. president, not even from Obama. Neither can they tell you when the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, or any other war took place, why it was fought, or who it was fought against. They cannot say what is in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. Most of them do not even know that the Emancipation Proclamation was over 151 years ago and think that it happened only a few generations ago. Most of them cannot tell you the reason for celebrating the 4th of July, Veteran’s’ Day, or Memorial Day. They have no pride in being American, because no one has ever taught them why America is an exceptional nation and what freedoms and opportunities America affords them.

Instead, my students have been specifically taught that America has done nothing but cheat them. One of my students from Honduras insisted that all white people have five bedroom homes with two car garages. I told him that I had nonesuch and lived just up the street in a three bedroom row house in a neighborhood with many of my students. He refused to believe me. My students also believe that minorities are a majority of the country (I know, it is oxymoronic). When asked to estimate the percentage of African-Americans in the country, the answers that I get are 45% to 90%! My students have told me that life for African-Americans in this country just as bad as it was at the beginning of the twentieth century. The national leaders of these minorities like Jackson and Sharpton and even the Clintons perpetuate these lies to stir up race hatred and keep us divided, while they line their own pockets with impunity.

America had better re-educate our children soon on why she is such an exceptional country. We must teach the real history of America, her failings and her successes. Currently, most urban students are only taught an exaggerated and biased analysis of her failings and only in relationship to their minority population giving a deeply skewed perception of what America really is. We must emphasize the opportunities America offers which are unique and exceptional. This is why so many want to come to this great land. We must embolden the rugged individual, unlike Obama who has declared him dead. We must once again instill a sense of pride in our country so that my students proudly stand with me, their fellow American, and voluntarily pledge allegiance to the United States of America.

Thanks for stopping by! What are your thoughts on the pledge? Consider commenting below. If you liked this article, please share it with a friend and on your social media stream of choice? 

Dana R. Casey is a veteran high school English teacher of more than two decades in an East-coast urban system.  She is a life-long student of theology, philosophy, and politics, dedicated to the true Liberalism of the Enlightenment, as defined by our Founders and enshrined in our Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. You can find out more about Dana over at http://www.candiddiscourse.com/.

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Filed under American culture, Guest Post, Speaking Out