Menu Home

Failed Civics Lesson

Over dinner this week, Adam and I were talking about the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, may her memory be for a blessing, and the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Elizabeth asked, “Was Ruth on the School Committee?” (There was a vacancy on our local School Committee recently.) Thereupon began a discussion that made clear to me that my children don’t understand basic civics: the constitution, branches of government, political parties, even the purpose of government.

Especially given that we’re less than 6 weeks from a presidential election, I thought it would be a good idea to teach them — the older ones, anyway. I made a PowerPoint presentation explaining basic constitutional principles in simple language, with fun photos. Here was my slide for popular sovereignty:

Last evening, after the little kids went to bed, I sat David and Elizabeth on the couch and started teaching — interactive lecture style, like a conference presentation or a grad student seminar. In retrospect, both the timing and format were poorly chosen, and the subject matter may have been over their heads. It was a disaster. 🤦 David was polite and mildly interested, but Elizabeth kept squirming, complaining that she was tired, that she needed a pillow, that it was “boring.” I finally snapped at her, whereupon she got all teary and protested that she couldn’t understand what I was saying, leaving me with combined feelings of embarrassment and guilt as I gave up my civics lesson as a bad job.

יותר ממה שהעגל רוצה לינק פרה רוצה להניק
More than the calf wishes to suck, the cow wants to suckle

Talmud, Pesachim 112a

Categories: Curriculum History & Geography


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *