Teaching American Government in an Election Year

One of the universal goals of homeschooling your children is to give them an american-flag-framed
education outside the traditional classroom, to take in the world beyond the textbook. Don’t get me wrong. Textbooks are a wonderful starting point, especially for older students. I am very much a traditional learner and so tend to teach others in that manner. I love a good textbook. But there is so much more learning to be experienced on a regular basis outside the curricula. My non-traditional daughter has taught me that.

In our studies of American Government, we are taking advantage of recent special events – the Convention of States Simulation and the Presidential debates. The Convention Simulation was broadcast live on Friday, September 23rd. It can be viewed in its entirety here. The first Presidential debate airs Monday night, September 26th on C-SPAN.

The Convention of States Simulation aired via live feed from Colonial Williamsburg. Our intention was to play it in the background while we did our school work. We didn’t get through our first subject before we found ourselves glued to the computer.

Whether you agree with the Convention or not, the peek into the political process was fascinating. The Convention Commissioners as they were called were representatives from the legislatures of all fifty states. It was enlightening to hear representatives of Texas, Alaska, New Jersey, Arizona, etc., stand up and speak as to the difficulties their states have experienced with federal overreach and unchecked powers of federal agencies. After hearing their concerns I had a renewed respect for the goals of the Convention and for our state legislators as well.

The Commissioners were true statesmen, professional in all matters and in all moments above reproach. Rules of order were respected. Opposing viewpoints were communicated in an appropriate manner and at the appropriate times.

“Easy,” you say, “for a group of people all on the same page.”

Well, yes and no.

A proposed amendment to impose some manner of fiscal restraint on the feds was being debated. Some of the commissioners thought the proposal was so complex and far-reaching that it should be tabled to be brought up at another time and place. One of them made a motion to do so. His motion to table further discussion of the proposed amendment failed with a tie vote. Eight abstentions and the remaining votes were split equally down the middle. Back to discussions it went.

And yet, in spite of differences of opinion on how to achieve a goal, there was always absolute decorum. Time limits were respected and observed. Statesmen whom I’m certain would have loved to keep speaking put their own desires aside for the good of the Convention to work together and make as much progress as possible. Our Congressmen in Washington would do well to take note.

We missed most of the first half of the Convention Simulation as it started before we did. We are not early risers. But we will replay it Monday to catch what we missed.

The debates are set to record so that we can replay them if necessary during American Government studies on Tuesday. I am anxious to see if the decorum, class, and restraint shown by our statesmen in the Convention will be similar to what we see in the Presidential debate. [Insert cricket chirp…]

Because you can’t see my facial expressions as I’m writing this post, let me assure you that was said strictly “tongue-in-cheek” with a big fat grin on my face. The debates should be quite entertaining, to say the least. We’ll have our popcorn in hand, resisting the urge to throw it at the television set, no doubt.

In my mind’s eye are images of Statler and Waldorf, the Muppets’ famous Peanut Gallery. They have made some of the smartest commentary of the political process so far. Too bad they aren’t available to make an appearance this fall. Statler and Waldorf at the Debates.


© 2015-2016 Our Lives in Stories


3 thoughts on “Teaching American Government in an Election Year

    1. Yes. My husband and I watched, and I was furiously instant messaging with a good friend watching from her house. My teen daughter was forced (by me) to watch the opening of the debate and the first question put to the candidates, to try to give her an idea of the rules and how the flow of debate should work. After watching for about five minutes her response was, “Can I turn this circus off now?” LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

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