Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum
Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum
Student Perspectives: Being a citizen
Desjohnna: This class allows me to be a citizen because it teaches me more about the government. Citizens of other countries that come here and want to become citizens have to take a test about the government. Civics tells you those questions and answers so I become more of a citizen, too.
I figured out that it’s way more complicated than I thought it was. In my old school, I learned about a three-ring government of checks and balances and just the main parts of the government, but now I actually get to see what happens on one basis of the government. It’s way more confusing, way harder than you could ever imagine it would be. Just reading out of a book doesn’t explain to you that the Supreme Court Justices have to be really open-minded and you have to know way more stuff than you think they know. You respect them more after taking a walk in their shoes.
I’ll know more about the government so I’ll know that if I’m not happy with a certain law, I have the power to change it. But I’m going to think twice about changing it because there’s so much that it has to go through. I’ll just be more aware.
Destinee: I learned that when you really go into it there are so many privileges and rights that you have as a citizen that you wouldn’t have if you were not. Like if I wasn’t a citizen, I couldn’t vote. That’s a big part. It’s deciding what your country is going to be based on. Before I took the class my perspectives on voting were a lot different. It was just kind of a day where you got to go and check off a ballot. But it means a lot more now that I know about what all the different branches do and how the Constitution works. It makes me feel a lot more power when I know that I’m going to be able to vote and pick somebody that’s going to lead my country.
Ina: Back at the beginning of the year we had to do stuff that was currently happening. At first I wasn’t really thinking about what is Congress going to do today. Nobody that I know thinks like that. So we started getting into it and explaining how the government works and I started trying to get more into it because I want to know more of what’s going on today, because you never know what might go on. So I started asking more questions about it. It’s our rights. We have a right to our rights. We have a right to know them. I knew some rights existed but I didn’t actually know that there was a piece of paper that told us our rights. I didn’t know anything about the Bill of Rights and any Amendments.
I think it’s confused. You have the same laws but different situations. Then people try to push this one so far and push this side so far. It gets kind of tricky when you start reading them both and then looking at everything. Like it’s supposed to be separation of church and state, but on every coin it says, “In God We Trust.” So all types of different things get in the way of that.
I think I’d like it better if I could vote, because I feel that I could speak out more with my opinion. We have opinions, too, you know.
John: I’m just learning about how a case can go from state court to federal court to the Supreme Court and how it can get appealed. I’m also learning a lot about Constitutional rights and how many Justices there are and about the Chief Justice. It’s nice to know about your Constitution and rights that you have as a citizen because you live in America and you want to know what’s going on. If you ever get in a position to be in the courts, you want to know what to do. I’ve been sort of thinking about being a lawyer when I’m older, going to law school.
There is no law that you can only have one religion or you can’t say this or that and they can’t prohibit you from assembling somewhere because we wanted a country different from when we were controlled by Great Britain. We wanted one where we could be freer, have free speech, and assemble anywhere. We could print anything that we wanted to. We could have any religion that we wanted to. It’s important, because to be a citizen you have to know about the past of our country and to vote you should know a lot about the Constitution so you can make a good vote and pick who you really want to be President.
I actually learned how hard it is to make a decision on a case that comes to the Supreme Court and actually had heated conversations that made me think more and made me want to win. I actually went home and studied a little bit more.
It’s made me think more about voting in the future and it’s helped me learn more about presidents and the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. It helped me think more about what I’m going to have to do in the future as a citizen.
Kaila: At the beginning of the school year I thought civics was just something very new because last semester we learned a lot about the government and the First Amendment. I thought it was going to be the same thing. It was kind of, but we learned more about a lot of the twists that life puts on us, like with the First Amendment and how people get away with a variety of stuff. It comes in pretty handy with life itself, because people do sue for the wrong reasons or they sue for the right reasons and civics really just pinpoints the First Amendment and what it’s all about. Civics tells you what it’s like after school and what people go through.
Kurtis: We learned how to deal with certain situations and how the whole legal system works. Like we learned how many judges we have and how long it takes to get up to the Supreme Court and how many cases they hear a year and how the Supreme Court is run. Just in case you ever get into some trouble or you want to sue somebody or something, you know the steps to take and the proper way to go.
I never knew that the First Amendment said this because we never read the First Amendment. We just know the five because we drew our hand and then we wrote the five Amendments in it.
We were discussing how some people take the law and make it try to mean something else because the founders are dead, so we really don’t know what they mean. So the class asks, “Why don’t they change it and make it for the new day?” And Ms. Borges said that we’ve been doing this for 200 years and it’s been working so they want to stay with what we’ve been doing.
I think that some laws that the states have need to be changed, like the right to bear a gun. I think back in the old days you needed that because British soldiers were all around. Now that we’ve established police and everything to protect you, people shouldn’t be able to carry them around. There are so many out there it’s dangerous.
© Annenberg Foundation 2013. All rights reserved. Legal Policy.