Friday, September 29, 2006
A note about education and Reason #1708 I'll be a bad mother
Because of some of the material we've been covering in our rhetoric and democratic theory class, I've been pondering what it means to educate citizens. How do we learn how to participate? Do we learn through local, local, local issues (like graduate forum and workplace meetings)? Do we learn through conversations? We we learn by participating in actual politics? Do we learn in our public speaking class when your crazy (read: me) instructor makes you study speeches and current political debates?

And me new line of thought....should we "teach" citizenship? In inevitably we teach "voting" and "dialogue" as the touchstones of democracy. Well, what about service? What about action? Can we teach that? Should we teach that? Inevitably, if someone is the teacher, that someone has the power. Why should I teach people what it means to be a citizen? Why do I have that authority? I'm not so sure I really understand the right lessons....

My 5 year old sister came running in after daycare. Her eyes wide. Her cheeks streaked. She crawled onto my lap.

"I chose the wrong one." *sniff, sniff*
..."You chose what? What was wrong?"
"The wrong president. I wrote Kerry and everyone laughed. I was the only one."

Ahhh...the realization of our conservative western Pennsylvania town hit me like a ton of bricks. So did every word I had ever said about the 04 election. My dad came down and filled in the holes of the story. Cait had "voted" in her daycare class. They told them what the choices were and had the children write a K for Kerry and a B for Bush. Out of 17 children, my sister was the only one who selected Kerry. Coincidence? Not really. She's the girl who boos Hummers with me when we pass them in the car and exclaimed one day that "Bush just doesn't get it." Not exactly "normal" five year old behavior.

Not really understanding the philosophy of voting, she obviously assumed that her "answer" was wrong... Not really understanding the philosophy of parenting I had obviously assumed that I was equipping her with helpful knowledge. I'm not sure that either of us "chose wrong" but Cait was well on her way to understanding the problem of participation.


Blogger Kourtney said...

You forgot to mention that when your other younger sister sees a hummer limo she tells her friends that those people hate the environment....Maggie will never tell you she thinks something looks cool again! She is too afraid of what liberal statement she will start saying next!

Anonymous Alicia said...

After her tears dry, I think Cait will learn what her older sister learned long ago: that sometimes we have to stand for what we believe in, even when everyone around us doubts our sanity.

Anonymous Alicia said...

I wanted to drop another comment to tell you that I enjoy your blog very much and I look forward to new posts (sometimes they're few and far in between!).
Your entries are like candy to me.
Your imagery is funny and creative, your symbolism is sneaky. Your thoughts are always straight forward and relentless.
I think you are very talented and have a lot to say.
I look forward to reading it.

Blogger quakerdave said...

First question: why would any teacher with half a teacher's brain set a kid up like this? Why were they talking politics in a daycare center, for pete's sake.

Teacher rule #1: Think ahead. Always keep this thought in mind: if there's a possibility that one kid might be humiliated or made to stand out as "different" in any way, DON'T DO IT. I'm in year 26 of classroom teaching, and just this past Friday, I made a crucial error and judgement and I know I hurt someone's feelings. Now I have to work to get that kid back.

As for teaching kid's citizenship, I took both of my boys into the voting booth with me every time I voted, and I never miss an election. They pulled the lever for me. It seems to have made an impression.

Blogger quakerdave said...

*error IN judement*

And typing, too.

Blogger quakerdave said...

... and then I spelled it wrong.

Time for bed.

Blogger kristen said...

alicia, thanks so much for the kind words! i'm scoping YOU out now :) i'm glad you visit!

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