“The vitality of a democracy depends upon the education and participation of its citizens.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
To be citizen of one of the greatest countries on earth is a privilege. However, I contend that America could be greater – if somehow we could ressurect the ideas of the original patriots of our nation. If only George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams…the original heroes of America… could be here today what would they say?
I think they would say, “Where are the patriots?” What is missing in the children of today? Where is the appreciation of freedom, the love of democracy, or the support of our republic. It seems like it’s “out of style” to be patriotic. To cry when the national anthem is sung, or to put your hand over your heart when the pledge of allegiance is being said. (Which by the way, can children still recite the pledge?) What is wrong with being thankful for a nation that is one of the last few bastions of freedom and liberty in the world. Many of our grandparents shed their blood to give us this freedom. A good dose of thankfulness for their sacrifice and others is in order.
I believe that part of the problem is that children are not being taught social studies in its entirety. Social studies is the study of a people or culture, its past, and the ramifications that past has on its future. America has a lot of history, that taught in its entirety would bring children to an appreciation of the sacrifices made to give us our individual freedoms. In addition to that, each person in a democracy is expected to participate. This is often called a participatory democracy – which we can see Thomas Jefferson alluded to in his quote above. Our government is designed in this manner. We must participate. Our representatives must hear us, so that they in turn can go to Washington to vote “the way their constituents” want them to. That is why they are called “representatives” – they are to represent US.
Yes, America has made many mistakes but that is all part of growing, all part of history, and the study of these mistakes will help us to avoid mistakes in the future. This is another important aspect of the study of social studies or history. Generals study the histories of war – why? To avoid making the same mistakes that other generals made in the past. History is valuable… for remembrance and appreciation, but also for wisdom in the future.
There are many ways to incorporate the study of history and social studies into your homeschool. I like to use literature based study, online president games, different social studies curriculum , and even incorporating movies. Which by the way are a wonderful way to learn what it was like in those days. We just recently finished a great series called John Adams. At one point in the movie (there are 6 hour long segements) at George Washington’s inauguration – I wanted so badly to BE THERE… Iwanted to cheer on that quiet and humble yet determined new president of ours. What exciting days they were – the birth of a new nation – and the men who tried to install laws that would keep the nation free and great for years to come. But what price did they pay??? Many of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence were then considered traitors to the crown. Many lost their homes, all their possessions, some had to flee for their lives and live in hiding. What sacrifice – what price to pay – for us… for me to be free!
Let’s get excited… let’s relive that spirit of the early Americans… let’s love our country and be patriots that want to be a part of making America a great republic! In days like we are living in… what would George Washington and Thomas Jefferson have done?