Volunteering this year has been off to a great start. At our partner school, Joyce Kilmer, we have continued to work in their civics class. On the first day, we introduced the students to the UN by showing them an introductory video and powerpoint and having them read an article about the French President Macron speaking at the UN. We then ran a debate on which sports should be in the Olympics, and more specifically whether E-sports should be added or not. They did not reach a conclusion, but it was a great debate.
The second week we talked about the Constitution. We started with a brief review of the American Revolution and its motives and moderated a debate where the students took the role of colonists. They debated whether to declare independence or not and ultimately decided to start a revolution when they realized it would be the most beneficial to the vast majority of the citizens. This set the stage for a discussion on the Articles of Confederation. After explaining why the Articles failed, we moved into the Constitution itself. To keep it high level, we explained the creation of the three branches of government, the Bill of Rights, and some further Amendments since. For our activity, we asked the students if they think any of the current Amendments should be changed, or if any new ones should be added. The one that ended up having the most discussion was the 24th Amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18. Some figured it should be lowered to 16, while some actually thought it should be raised to 21! It made for some friendly debate, and the students continued to discuss the matter even after class was over.
Continuing on with the topic of independence, we used a modern example of the Catalan independence movement for our third class with them. We introduced the conflict via a video, powerpoint, and article. The students were put into three groups: pro-independence, anti-independence, and neutral. Just like the week before, it was a lively debate that continued on even after it was time for the students to go to their next class.