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Making Civics Real Workshop 5: Patriotism & Foreign Policy  
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Workshop 5

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Teacher Perspectives
Student Perspectives
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Student Perspectives: Studying civics

Courtnie: Before, I didn't really know [much about] dealing with patriotism, government, the world, and all the problems that we face. Because I'm a teenager, that's something that I really wasn't focusing on. But when I started going to her class and she started opening my eyes to different situations, I found myself reading the newspaper every day. I found myself watching the news every day. That's kind of broadening my horizons on the world itself. My mother owns a beauty salon and my father works at the airport. When I started taking Ms. Chandler's class, it was during the time of [the 2001 terrorist attacks] and my father’s job was shut down and he had to get transferred out to Dulles Airport. He came home talking about so much every day--about the job and the budget and the money. So we were able to actually be on a one-on-one basis, because I was learning it in school and then I was coming home and learning about it on the news and from my dad. I can talk to my parents about a whole lot of stuff now. When I hear them in the house talking about the world and everything, I can have an opinion.

David: I just thought it was going to be loads and loads and loads of information and loads of homework and just sleepless nights of studying the U.S. Constitution and memorizing it. I just have to memorize this useless information that I’m going to forget by my freshman year in college. I just didn’t think it was going to be at all interesting as it is now.

Eugenia: I really didn’t like civics. I didn’t like history. I didn’t like politics because it was always confusing to me. I didn’t like discussion of religion or politics with classmates. I didn’t like debate. I didn’t like to discuss any government outside of America. I didn’t like to discuss American government. Now I understand. We are able to ask questions that you wouldn’t normally ask in the general public, and Ms. Chandler is there to help us answer those questions. When she doesn’t have the answers, she always has another resource for us to go to. In the beginning I didn’t believe that I could be a graphic designer and need civics. [I thought] I could be a literary artist and not have to worry about what was in the past and what was in the present. Now I know the past, so I can give references in my work, which gives your work a more grounded foundation.

Myra: Well, I enjoy government and I enjoy politics and especially foreign affairs and relations between our country and other countries so I was excited about it and I knew Ms. Chandler to [have] a good relationship with the students and an understanding that we have a lot on our plate at the school. So I was really looking at it as a good opportunity to learn more about government and find ways to relate it more to my art.

Leo: I thought studying civics was going to be boring, and that I was going to be asleep in the class. I thought it was going to be back to middle school U.S. government, just memorizing and reciting the constitution and what parts of it were meaningful to us. But since she incorporates so much from our outside lives, like art, [and] shows us how it affects us and how it's going to affect us in the future, I think it kind of woke me up. This can be a lot of fun. Learning about how the government can work for me and learning about the history of the United States has a great impact on how I'm going to be working tomorrow. I've never been so enthralled in government before where I want to vote and I want to participate more because my voice counts, as they say. It's something that surprised me a lot. I don't think the class should be called “civics.” I think it should be called “life” because we do so much that incorporates everything that we go through here at an art school, here in the government, here in life.

Selena: It was a requirement. I really didn’t think anything of it. I feel that I need to take a government class because there are things that I need to know to be a part of this country, to be a part of this world so that I can participate. It’s important to have civics education because without it I don’t think people would be aware of what’s going on. I wouldn’t be aware of some of my rights. I know the Bill of Rights. But when you go into depth with it to understand the cases that have been in the Supreme Court and when you know what your human rights are, what you can and can’t do in this country, you learn how to operate in this society.


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