Thursday, June 19, 2008

Teaching about the Constitution



     Last week we had a great study of how the United States Constitution was written. As usual, I previewed the week’s study with the dc, by going over their accountability and thinking questions with them before they started the reading assignments. After the preview, dd worked on her Latin, and was elated that some of her new vocabulary was directly related to the week’s study.

     Did you know that Constitution is derived from the Latin verb, constituere which means "to set up, decide, determine?" Furthermore, have you considered that delegate comes from the Latin verb deligere which means "choose?" DD was elated to find those words. I used them at the beginning of our discussion and ds found that quite fascinating as we plowed into the discussion.

     Our movie of the week was one I had picked up at our recent homeschool bookfair, A More Perfect Union. This link will take you to a excellent video clip of the movie. 

     A More Perfect Union clearly showed the failure of the Articles of Confederation government. Clearly, we saw our weakened status in the eyes of Britain, due to our weak government. Clearly, we saw the delegates reluctant to discuss solutions, unless George Washington, whom all admired and respected, presided over the meeting. Clearly we saw the mastermind behind Madison’s research of past governments as he showed the Virginia delegates his proposal for a 3 branch government with checks and balances using various drinking vessels at the local tavern. Clearly, we saw the debates between the small states and large states on how to proportion votes in the legislature. Clearly, we saw Benjamin Franklin propose the need for prayer at so important a meeting. Clearly we saw George Washington take the lead in kneeling in prayer. Clearly we witnessed the fiery debates and tension over the Great Compromise of a proportionate body of legislators in the House, and equal number of representatives in the Senate. Eventually the Great Compromise was passed, to the chagrin of Madison. However, after much wrestling of conscience, he finally came to terms that this made for the most true representation of government of the people. Clearly we witnessed the final passage of votes to recognize the Constitution as law of the land, albeit with a few dissenters who called for a Bill of Rights. Madison tried to assure them that the Bill of Rights was assumed in the Constitution. Although the Constitution was eventually ratified by the required 9 states, the remaining big states and some small states still refused to sign on, until eventually the Bill of Rights was written by Madison himself, and eventually passed. In celebration of forming a completely new form of government, never before known to the history of the human race, the movie closed as George Washington took the oath of office.

     Unfortunately, the history and meaning of the Constitution does not appear to be clear to some of our Congressmen and judges today. I think Franklin’s call for prayer is as applicable today as it was in 1787…"At the beginning of our War for Independence we had daily prayers in this room for divine protection. Our prayers were heard, and they were graciously answered. Have we now forgotten this powerful Friend? Do we think we no longer need His assistance? I have lived a long time. And the longer I live, the more I am convinced that God governs in the affairs of man. If a sparrow cannot fall without His notice, can an empire rise without His aid? Without the Lord, we shall fare no better than the builders of Babel. We shall be divided by our little, local interest. We shall become a reproach to future ages." 

1 comment:

  1. That is always one of my favorite time periods to study. As a child, I never understood that our founding fathers were risking their lives!

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