Sunday, February 20, 2005

Some Students Say First Amendment No Big Deal; Another Student Responds; Grandparent Coalition; Mentoring for Social Justice and Calvin/Hobbes

I was very disturbed when I came across this article a couple of weeks ago:

First Amendment No Big Deal, High School Students Say

Seeking answers I decided to ask the students in my college courses what they thought about this article and whether it reflected their worldview. I assigned the article and a two page response (as extra credit).

This is the first response I received and I think it speaks volumes about the problem that my friends at The Grandparent Coalition are trying to address. What do standardized tests teach our children? What do they remember? What is lost in the process? Please feel free to share your response to the student--she, after all, directly addresses the need for people to care and become involved.

“First Amendment no big deal, Students Say”

When the First Amendment comes to mind, I think – “freedom of speech, religion, press, and assembly.” To me, that means that I can say what I want and choose whichever religion I would like. I am free to publish my opinions and gather with others for whatever reasons I choose. Beyond that, however, not much of my thoughts are ever put into the first amendment. Because of this, I think this article is a fair representation of my generation. The article states”…almost three in four students saying they took the first amendment for granted or didn’t know how they felt about it.” I think this statement accurately describes my generation. The article also talks about how most students think that flag burning is illegal and that they government can restrict any indecent material on the internet. Both of those are untrue, and to be completely honest, before reading this article, my thoughts on those two matters were the same as the majority.

I think the reason students think and feel the way they do about the first amendment is because my generation has never been fully educated on the first amendment or even the Bill of Rights in general. Of course most students have probably had to memorize the amendments in one history class or another, but I honestly don’t think any of us have had an in-depth education about the Bill of Rights. I know that I personally have never done much more with the amendments than memorized them and had a test on them. I could probably name all ten amendments in the Bill of Rights but I don’t think I could tell you the rights that all of them protect.

The article talks about censorship and how a majority of high school students do not think that government censorship of newspapers is a bad thing. I think part of the reason for their thoughts is that we have grown up in a time where censorship has been a major debate topic. I remember the topic coming up many times in my high school classrooms, but I do not even remember a time where I learned what is already censored and what is not. To this day I still do not know. Honestly, I did not know that as of right now newspapers could not be censored. After thinking about it, I realize how it would be a bad thing, but until now, I have never really been made to think about it. Teachers in high school, at least my teachers, had never addressed these types of issues before. After reading this article I feel somewhat ignorant and naive, but I do not necessarily think it is my fault. I have just never learned this information.

On the topic of whether or not we should be concerned about this, I really do not think that I can give an unbiased opinion. You had said that you were greatly disturbed by this article. I, on the other hand, am not. I think this is because I have never known anything different and because I am in this generation, I cannot see what the problem is like an outsider could. By your reactions I would assume that you grew up with a different attitude and education when it comes to the amendments. Perhaps, it should be the responsibility of your generation to educate us and make us appreciate the rights that we have and what they actually are. Otherwise, I think this trend is going to continue in the direction that it is heading: less education and less concern about our rights granted through the amendments.

Reflecting on Paul Kivel's "Are You Mentoring For Social Justice

Calvin and Hobbes on the Lesson of the "No Child Left Behind Policies"


La Madre said...

man, wish you were my teacher.

Michael said...


Having visited your weblog I wish you were my teacher as well... I'll visit again to learn more.