In what now appears to have been a past life I taught Political Science at Mother of Sorrows high school to senior students. It was not a conventual classroom, and it was not designed to be. The purpose was to find a new way to give our next generation in the school an opportunity to think for themselves. At the same time, we wanted to prepare them to take their place in the American political system.
The class was based on a premise that education was a dialogue, not monologue. The students sat in a circle so that discussion and inclusion would be encouraged.
The teacher was the motivator and then coordinator. There was trust in the institution that the trained and certified teachers would perform according to the philosophy of that school. There was no interference allowed in the curriculum from outside forces.
Students learned and participated and realized that they could take an active part in the American government.
Today there is no such scenario: it has been replaced by the term “to be controlled.” Can it be said that this could be applied to the entire country at this time in history?
One of the daily lessons of Political Science 101 began with a discussion about how the United States Congress functions and, more specifically, how each Representative cast his votes. The students wanted to know if each member votes on issues as he perceives his constituents would, or if he personally believed that input from the people was not necessary. I wish I had recorded the debate.
We decided that the students’ homework would be to identify a controversial issue in the news at that time and follow up by calling up the Representative’s office and asking how he voted or would vote on that issue. (No social media at that time.) They brought their findings to the next class, and we discussed them.
I later learned that the Representative was not pleased with the assignment. He and I debated on the phone about the meaning of a republic. He did agree to attend a future class and explain the process to the students in person.
Maybe we could experiment and adopt the same technique today. Let’s follow how our Representative — Congresswoman Robin Kelly — votes on the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill finding its way through Congress. Take the initiative and get up to date on the provisions of the Bill. Ask yourself how you would vote if you were the Representative. Do your own research, and avoid what you are being told by the news pundits.
The technique is not to convince you one way or another.
Congresswoman Robin Kelly has offices in Matteson, Chicago, and Kankakee. Her contact information — office addresses, phone numbers, and email instructions — is available at her website:
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