Sorry, Elena. The Young Are Learning about The Declaration of Independence.
Earlier this year I tasked one of my sixth grade art classes to write, in long hand, the Declaration of Independence. Some of the students took to the task with enthusiasm, others groaned but in the end it was a useful and educational effort. I know that on September 17th Constitution Day is observed and our public schools here in Arkansas are encouraged to celebrate it. I don’t know if there is a day in the American school calendar in which to celebrate the masterful Declaration of Independence, especially since most students are not in school on the 4th of July.
I was inspired to have the students write the Declaration in long hand from this post by Bill Whittle, which I learned about from the wonderful Sissy Willis.
The Declaration of Independence – the foundational “why” of why we are here – is faded, irreparably faded, and lost to us forever. And the sight of it filled me with despair. Not only for the lost document. I became overwhelmed with despair because the loss of the words on the parchment beneath the glass at my fingers felt a perfect analogy for the fading of those words and ideals from the pages of society. Like the ghost signatures on this pale surface, so many of these ideals are faded and worn — almost invisible, today.
And the instant I had that thought I had another. This document, this piece of parchment, is unreadable. So I resolved to make a copy: just for me.
I wrote it out, by hand, using a four-dollar fountain pen I got at the drug store and copied onto regular printer paper. I could have typed it – heck, I could have texted it – but wanted to write it out by hand. I wanted it to hurt a little.
And I would urge you now – I would urge each of you listening to this today, especially those of you with children – to help me recover this document. We can’t get that ink back on that paper. But we can do something better.
I was inspired by Sissy’s Bill Whittle link and post to write the following on sisu…
Bill Whittle has given me a new idea for an art project for my sixth graders. I just ordered new calligraphy pens and paper.
OBJECTIVE: The students will recover, evaluate, analyze and create an artwork by writing in longhand, with calligraphy pens, the Declaration of Independence.
I have a large copy of the Declaration hanging in a place of honor in my art room.
As always, when I click on sisu, there is something that brings tears of joy or posts that inspire me to think.
If we don’t teach them, American children will not learn about the most stirring and eloquent document ever written.
As the eloquent Bill Whittle wrote back in March, Many of us talk a lot about the Constitution these days, but I don’t want to talk about the Constitution – I want to talk about the Declaration. The Constitution is the “how” of America, but the declaration is the “why.”
Now that we know that Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan thinks little of our natural rights as espoused in the Declaration of Independence, we need to teach our children that now, more than ever, the phrase, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are unalienable rights”, that is, our Founding Fathers believed that Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are not to be “separated, given away, or taken away.”
At the Supreme Court confirmation hearings Kagan dismissed the importance of the Declaration of Independence out of hand.
Kagan responded, “To be honest with you, I don’t have a view of what are natural rights independent of the Constitution.”
“So,” Coburn asked, “you wouldn’t embrace what the Declaration says, that we have certain God-given rights” and that among these are the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?”
Kagan answered, “I believe that the Constitution is an extraordinary document, and I am not saying that I do not believe there are not rights preexisting the Constitution and the laws, but my job as a justice is to enforce the Constitution and the laws.”
The Obama administration has worked from Day One to separate, give away or take away our American rights.
On this day of days in our American world my hope is that the students I taught about the Declaration of Independence will remember and consider the profound truths that Thomas Jefferson revealed to the world.
Somehow, through all the noise and megabytes of video games, ipods, iphones and all the other static that seeks to confuse and distract the young from the knowledge and understanding of our great history we have to keep persevering to teach them.
There is reason to hope as Suzanne Fields writes in The Washington Times.
Happy Birthday to America, the land that I love.