A Small Step Forward

Idea for how students should be prep'd for the president's talk to them on Tuesday…

The teachers should say something like this:

We're a country built on ideas. Some of these ideas end up as laws that govern the basic rights, responsibilities and duties we have as citizens. Others shape how our money is spent, how we trade with other nations and when we go to war.

These ideas get developed, debated and ultimately decided on in the process we know as politics. It's often pretty messy and loud, and people (both professional politicians and the folks who elect them to office) tend to band together into groups where everyone shares pretty much the same ideas, and says the same things.

All too often, they stop listening to folks outside their group, and start just labeling them (sometimes with nasty names). Once this happens, progress in ideas stop moving forward, and our governing processes break down.

Churchill This is one of the reasons that a very famous man once began a sentence by saying, "Democracy is the worst form of government…". How he finished that sentence is pretty important however. Here's the full statement he made (after losing an election), "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

Democracy only works well however when we all listen, really listen and try to understand, most importantly to what others who think differently from us are saying.

We can't really learn much if we only listen to others who think exactly like us, can we?

OK, so today, we're going to listen to what the President has go to say. And then tonight, with your parents, I'd like you to listen to a few news programs about today's speech, and what others are saying about it; some will agree with Mr. Obama, others will disagree.

What I'd like you to do is to write down as many of the ideas supportive of what the president says as you hear and think of yourselves, and as many opposing ideas you hear and can think of too. The goal is not to judge right and wrong ideas, only to listen for them, and to try and understand what they mean.

Judgement should only come later… after understanding. Understanding can only come through learning and thoughtful consideration. Learning starts with listening to others, especially those with ideas different from our own.

We'll talk about this more tomorrow. Now let's listen, really listen…

Coda: Now, who's going to prep the parents?

Posted in Current Affairs.

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