On President’s Day, a teachable moment: Trumpers may huff and puff but will they blow our Democracy down?
today at 12:05 pm
I teach upper elementary and middle school students about climate change every Thursday, and I keep thinking about what students might say about the second impeachment trial.
As I try to make sense of the acquittal, I parody a Megan Trainor song…it’s all about that oath.
So, what will I talk about this Thursday with my students who are passionate about acting on the climate crisis? How will we discuss the resilience of our Democracy relative to the acquittal?
I’ll talk about growth. What impressed me most (and I am not a total numbers person when it comes to working with students) is that during the first impeachment trial, only one Republican senator voted for conviction while during the second impeachment trial, seven Republican senators did.
Now that’s substantial growth!
Next, I’ll share the oath* that each and every senator took as the senators assumed the responsibility of becoming impartial jurors, including those who were on the phone with our ex-President during the insurrection. That insurrection interrupted the counting of the electoral votes on the sixth of January, led to the deaths of five individuals, and horrific injury to many, plus serious property damage.
Below is the oath:
I solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be,) that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God.
So, help me—in a moment of utter angst, I will tell my students that a number of Republican senators skipped parts of the second impeachment trial—shirking constitutional responsibility and debasing their oaths–far more serious than cheating or cutting class.
I’ll read the names of those Republican senators whom I believe upheld their Constitutional oath:
I will cover this material because I believe in the integrity of youth and their ability to dive into complex issues. I won’t tell my students what to believe, I will just give them context in which to analyze and evaluate the evidence. I’ll remind them of the fairy tale we interpreted as a class to foster open conversations, discussions calling for higher level thinking, as I believe these seven Senators did.
Two weeks ago, I introduced the class to Blooms (Revised) Taxonomy, in the context of The Three Little Pigs. Here’s a brief tutorial:
Bloom’s (Revised) Taxonomy calls for growth, the development of thinking from lowest to highest levels. Cognitively, it’s easier for us to master the earlier levels of thinking, such as “remember,” “understand” or “apply.” I’ll give you an example of “apply.” Let’s say your child studies fractions in class, and you take your child to the grocery store. If your child recognizes that you are buying a third of a pound of any food product, then most likely your child is learning how to use –or apply–what she was taught in school.
Our class discussed even more challenging levels of Bloom’s (Revised) Taxonomy: “analysis,” “evaluation,” and “creation.” Those are considered higher levels of thinking because they require integration—and that’s where the Three Little Pigs come in. The second pig learned from the mistakes of the first pig and built a house of wood. And the third little pig took his thinking one step further after seeing what happened to the second little pig. He created a house that couldn’t be destroyed, no matter how hard somebody huffed and puffed and threatened to blow that house down.
And what I am hoping is that these kids realize that the seven Republican senators who voted in favor of impeachment want our Democracy to be a house of bricks. A house that even the VENGEFUL Donald Trump (and of course his fellow thugs) can’t blow down.
And I will tell my students, if they don’t know already, that 57 Senators voted to impeach. Yep, that’s REMARKABLE growth; more than half of our Senators voted to impeach (impeachment calls for 2/3).
I expect someone will ask me about Mitch McConnell’s bizarre (Catch 22) post-acquittal speech.
I’ll listen to student interpretations and perhaps liken Mitch McConnell’s confounding comments to playing Dodge Ball. I keep hearing that “history will judge Mitch….” Certainly likely, and in my mind, so will the next generation of voters. Kids, like the ones I teach. Students who treasure human and animal life and are working so very hard to save our planet.
I am hoping that teachers (and parents) will take the risk (not fear being called out as political) and discuss morals and the evidence at hand. Our job is to teach kids how to think on their own and make real connections. In no uncertain terms, participatory democracy requires complex thinking.
Let some huff, and puff, and try to blow our Democratic house down. I’m not scared. I think our Democracy is made of bricks; we learned, as we studied history and analyzed the Civil War, including President Lincoln’s warning (which we heeded) “that a house divided cannot stand.”