October 11, 2010

Textbook Lingo: Democracy vs. Republic

I ran across some links on our homeschool forum concerning some major chaos that has ensued  in the Alpine School District.  Mind you, I have no idea where this school district even is, although I know it's somewhere in Utah.  It caught my eye because it said, "This is happening in the most conservative county in the most conservative state.  If it can happen here, it's probably happening in your school district too."  Well, I kind of had to see what this great horror was that was happening.  Right?

So I clicked on over to the link and read the document outlining concerns with the Alpine School Board.  There was a little character assassination of an educational philosopher who shall remain nameless.  There were some serious complaints about the new math program which, if true, are in fact quite concerning.  But the thing that caught my eye about this document was how concerned these people seem to be about whether America is a democracy or a republic and which one the children are being taught at school. The concerned parents say America is a republic and the school's use of the term democracy is indoctrinating our young people so that we can more easily move towards socialism.  The school board says we are a democracy and they will not allow any posters, text books, etc. that use the term republic.  In the end it looked to be more of an argument over what we should be rather than one over what we actually are.

Here were my thoughts.

1.  Which are we really?  I mean, I always thought we were a democracy, but I will concede that I was educated from textbook by teachers who rarely strayed from what was on the printed page into a real discussion about government.  I began to research the two forms of government just to make sure I knew for myself which form of government I live under.  In my search, I found this video which pretty accurately sums up how I have come to view the situation.  Well, accurate but with a disclaimer!!!  I'm not as charged about the war or the electoral college as this fella, and would not have chosen to abbreviate a swear word at the end, but clearly my 7 year old was not his intended audience!  Haha!  That said, the "recipe" he speaks of speaks to me. 

Check out the video.  I'm interested to hear what you think and I'd especially like to hear from those of you who truly feel like it's one or the other and why.   It's not a matter of what we should be or what we were meant to be (althought those are certainly worth discussing as well), but a matter of what we actually are.  What do you think?  Teach me!

 2.  Nothing is ever black and white and being so firmly rooted in one side without a willingness to at least let the kids hear the other side is depriving them of the opportunity to think for themselves!  Even if I think one side is right, should I not at least allow my kid to hear the very word that the other side uses and trust that they are capable of deciding for themselves?  I'm not talking about teaching a small child about immoral or non-virtuous topics.  I'm just saying let's define terms clearly and then methodically look at what's going on here so that they can actually think instead of be told.  The fear that a child might hear a term like democracy or republic is a bit more alarming to me that any form of government.  Rather than indoctrinating our most precious assets, perhaps we could teach them to be confident and moral individuals with an ability to think through complex issues and make decisions for themselves.

Okay, there is so much more I want to say about this, but I feel I should hold back a little and not unleash the full Skyla on anyone!  haha!  So seriously, I want to know what you think on it all!  What kind of government are we?  And is it important to you that your children only are taught what you feel is accurate, what you agree with, or a whole bunch of ideas that aren't necessarily in harmony?  How much time do you spend talking about things like government or social issues with your older kids?  We're not there yet as a family, so it's easy to assume what I'll be doing when my kids are older.  But how often do we end up doing what we thought we'd be doing years earlier?  Almost never!  So give me some insight, people!  What's on your mind?

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