This I Believe About the American Creed
I believe education through schooling is an open door for all citizens to fulfill their personal American Dream. I believe that education is the most important American value because all other values stem from education. Most students are not exposed to the American values until they come to school. In fact, the value of immigration is often influenced by our education. The National Writing Project published an article by Solo Lim (2018) discussing his feelings about the American Creed Values. In his article, “My Family and the American Creed,” he explained how his parents were both child refugees who came to the United States and now hold successful careers in Pharmacy and Engineering. His grandmother chose the US over other countries simply for the education, and the US education system allowed these children to achieve their American Dream. As a teacher, I have the ability to share the American Creed Values with my students to explain and demonstrate the importance of practicing our democratic rights so everyone is able to achieve their own American Dream and make a difference in the world.
I believe schools are the foundation of our society. It is the opportunity to steer our society in the right direction, and as an educator I believe it is my duty to prepare students for America’s democratic society. It is important that I provide the appropriate skills needed to fully utilize a democratic citizenship. Students need to know the issues that America is trying to overcome and understand that participation is a way to help fix them. I, as a teacher, am able to teach our students this idea. Democratic Schools: Lessons in Powerful Education (Beane and Apple, 2007) gives an example of a school practicing democracy to overcome a common problem.
Just as they do every Friday afternoon, the students and teachers in the elementary school gather today to discuss ongoing school wide projects and problems. The major issue this week is that someone has written graffiti on a school wall. After nearly a half-hour of debate, three proposals are put forth. The group votes to establish a new rule: anyone defacing school property will spend their free time over three days working with the school custodian (p.2).
With the teacher guiding the students, they created a way to help eradicate this problem on their school property. This school is allowing children to build the skillset of attending meetings, debating, and writing proposals with the interest of society in mind. Schools are a powerful community, and I believe schools need to do more to help make a difference in our world. This example demonstrates what I will do in my classroom to teach the American Creed Values and practice our democratic rights.
Surprisingly, many current citizens do not utilize their democratic rights. I’m sure there are different reasons for this, but Beane and Apple’s Democratic Schools: Lessons in Powerful Education (2007) leads me to consider that people do not believe one person is enough to make a difference. It states that democracy has become, “not sufficient enough to get them what they want” (p. 6). I believe this thought comes from an error in education. Democratic Schools: Lessons in Powerful Education (Beane & Apple, 2007) discusses Rosa Parks and how she stood up for what she believed in which changed society. Most Americans learn about her story in school, but teachers then need to link this story to democracy to exemplify the power of one. Teachers who practice the teaching philosophy of Essentialism, simply teaching the basic skills and knowledge to students, will more than likely not link this story to citizenship, diversity, or politics. Students will then miss an important connection to the American Creed Values.
As an educator, I believe in progressivism. I believe my role as a teacher, “creates an environment rich with opportunities for student-directed learning and group problem solving,” and students are, “learning to solve problems of democratic society (Oakes & Lipton, 2003, p. 105). For example, I would take the Rosa Parks’ story and show students how we, as a class can make improvements on the environment. I could have the conversation with my students about how plastic materials and other human materials are negatively impacting the planet. I would discuss with them what they use in their everyday lives that is hurting the environment, and together we would settle on starting with plastic bags. As a class we would stop using plastic bags, and I would keep count how many plastic bags we saved every time someone brought in an alternative. I could then show them how to mathematically figure out how many bags we were saving and discuss how we as a class positively impacted the environment in a great way. I could have the children write letters to stores explaining to them how having plastic bags is impacting the environment and offer them solutions to better impact the planet. In this example I took a common history lesson to practice democracy with my students, and easily incorporate math, science, and writing as well. The students’ role was to engage in the discussions and act on the issue to enhance their learning. My role was to facilitate and create opportunities for these children. I was to lead them in the right direction. Students are learning and participating in the American Creed Values of citizenship and service through this exercise that they can then spread to their family and friends. In this example, I was able to make a difference for the planet by informing my children on the effects of plastic and actually reducing waste by eliminating the use of plastic bags in my classroom. My hope is to enlighten children so they are able to see these problems and make these changes outside of the classroom to make a difference in the world as well.
I am teaching students to speak up for what they believe in and explain how its benefits will better society and its people. I am teaching students to fight for these rights for themselves and others by using them. The American Creed Value of service is impacted by this idea. Everyday men and women put their lives on the line and make sacrifices for us to keep these rights. They fight for us so we should use them. Tegan Griffith, an American Marine Corps Sergeant interviewed for American Creed explained how proud she was to see a protest going on outside. She was proud to see citizens using their rights to try to make a difference for what they believe in (2018). In my classroom, students will use their rights to make a difference in the world and will not be afraid to stand up for their rights. We are educating students in hopes of them changing the world for the better. Why not start preparing them for this in school? There are many problems in the world, and schools must prepare students for these problems and think of ideas to fix them. If an idea is doable, then the students need to act on it. Students cannot be afraid to speak their mind and make mistakes in front of their peers in my classroom. The progressive environment must promote discussions and engagement in hopes of them changing the world for the better.
I did not experience Progressivism in my schooling, which is why I believe so strongly in it. My teachers always held an authoritarian position. The desks were traditional, discouraging any conversation between students, and teachers taught right from the textbooks. It reminds me more of the Essentialism philosophy. Students were to read, take notes, listen to lectures, take a test, then move on. There was little further purpose in my classrooms, but this form of education in my schooling did not prepare me for society. Everyone in the US should be educated this way, because everyone will soon be able to put their knowledge into action as an active citizen in the same society. Everyone’s actions affect the world, and we all share the same world. It is time we begin educating students to live by the American Creed Values in the same democratic society to make a difference in the world.
Apple, M. W., & Beane, J. A. (2007). Democratic Schools: Lessons in Powerful Education(2nd ed.). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Lim, S. (2018, August 9). My Family and the American Creed. Retrieved September 8, 2018, from https://writingourfuture.nwp.org/americancreed/responses/244-my-family-and-the-american-creed
Oakes, J., & Lipton, M. (2003). Teaching to change the world (2nd ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Rice, C., & Kennedy, D. M. (Directors). (2018, February 27). American Creed [Video file]. Retrieved September 05, 2018, from http://www.pbs.org/program/american-creed/