The most eye-opening civics lesson I ever had was while teaching third grade this year. The presidential election was heating up and some of the children showed an interest. I decided we would have an election for a class president.
We would choose our nominees. They would make a campaign speech and the class would vote.
To simplify the process, candidates were nominated by other class members. We discussed what kinds of characteristics these students should have. We got many nominations and from those; Eric and Grace were picked to run for the top spot.
The class had done a great job in their selections. Both candidates were good kids. I thought Eric might have an advantage because he got lots of parental support. During the campaign, I never saw Grace's mother.
The day arrived when they were to make their speeches. Eric went first. He had specific ideas about how to make our class a better place. He ended by promising to do his very best. Every one applauded. He sat down and Grace came to the podium.
Her speech was concise. She said, "If you will vote for me, I will give you ice cream." She sat down.
The class went wild: "Yes! Yes! We want ice cream."
She surely would say more, but she did not have to.
A discussion followed:
"How did she plan to pay for the ice cream?"
She wasn't sure.
"Would her parents buy it or would the class pay for it?"
She didn't know.
The class really didn't care.
All they were thinking about was ice cream.
Eric was forgotten. Grace won by a landslide.
* * *
Today, Barack Obama's approach to the economic downturn seems to be, "let's dish out more ice cream," and when he does, sixty percent of our citizens react like nine year olds.
They want ice cream.
The other forty percent know they're going to have to feed the cow and clean up the mess.
This is a true story written by a teacher in the Louisville, Kentucky area. Only the names have been changed for anonymity.