Education in the science of government
Happy New Year! The National Center for Constitutional Studies has outlined some bold objectives for 2007, which make up the subject of this letter. For our guide in this endeavor, we follow the counsel of President George Washington who said:
“A primary object.should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing.than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?”
High School seniors try their hand in teaching the Constitution
As a teacher of U. S. Government and Constitution to the seniors at our charter high school, I require them, as a final project of the class, to identify five adults not in their household, to whom they can teach a significant Constitutional concept. Each of the five must be taught a different concept and they were to commit the adult to read the pocket Constitution given to each of the five and have each of them sign the student’s copy affirming that commitment. We also gave each student one copy of The 5000 Year Leap which he or she could give to the most interested of the five adult “students.”
I have prepared the students the best I know how. We use as texts in our class The 5000 Year Leap and The Making of America so they are quite familiar with the principles of good government as established by our Founding Fathers. The last two days just before the Christmas break were devoted to the students, each of whom gave a report on the completed project. As a teacher, I always enjoy this part of our class. I know this assignment will be an eye-opening experience for them and look forward to hearing how they handle real-world thinking. Here are some of the students’ comments given during their reports:
Given to an adult who hesitated learning about the Constitution, the student said: “If my generation is the one who will have to restore and defend the Constitution, don’t you think you could take a few minutes to learn a little about it?”
One of the adults to whom the student wanted to give The Five Thousand Year Leap said: “I will take it and read it if you will return and discuss it with me after I am finished.”
Another adult agreed to take The Five Thousand Year Leap if the student would autograph it. The student reported: “I autographed it and it made me feel like I was an important teacher of what was in the book.”
One student chose to teach her uncle about the powers of Congress. She reported: “When I told him that Congress had the power to do only about 20 things, he said that wasn’t true and that they do a lot more things than that. Then he asked me where I was getting my information. I told him Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution which we then read together. He said he had never heard that before. I then read to him the Tenth Amendment which says that is all the power Congress has. He didn’t know what to say. He said he would have to read the Constitution again and I said I would gladly give him a copy, which I did.”
Another student decided to teach about the value of oath taking in the Constitution. He took a recent article from the newspaper which described the furor which arose when a newly elected American of the Moslem faith said he would take the oath of office using the Koran instead of the Bible. He taught the Founders’ position that an oath should be administered to a person who believes in a Supreme Being and in a future state of rewards and punishments and that it should be done in the way that would bind the conscience the most. To a Moslem, that would be using the Koran. The adult replied that it made sense and was certainly a much more tolerable position.
Another student visited with recent graduates of one of the largest district high schools in the city who said that they had been taught in high school that the Constitution is different now than in the Founders’ day; that they had been taught in their government class that it is the role of government to take from the haves and give to the have-nots; and that a lot of the Founders’ ideas were no longer applicable to our modern technological world. The student said: “Because they were in a group they were overpowering and kept making comments so fast I could not reply to them all. I don’t think I did very well in teaching any of them. I guess its best to teach one at a time!”
Building on our distribution of A More Perfect Union DVD
The incredible response to our distribution of A More Perfect Union DVD to over 100,000 schools for use in Constitution Week last year has encouraged us to distribute earlier this year the beautiful, multi-page study guide to help teachers better prepare to teach these marvelous concepts not only during Constitution Week, but any other time they can do so during the school year. These 100,000 will be mailed to the nation’s schools in March and April.
Making The Five Thousand Year Leap the center of our teaching
With the newly revised and reprinted edition of The 5000 Year Leap and with the marvelous improvements in technology, we are prepared to launch a major effort this year in making this book the center of learning for the American people about the principles of liberty and the Constitution. This book, as no other book does, contains the principles of liberty which the Founders said any people must embrace if they want to remain free and happy. It itemizes the 28 great ideas upon which our freedom and liberty rests and which form the cornerstone of our Constitution. One of the hallmarks of the writings of W. Cleon Skousen (whose death occurred one year ago this month) is his ability to make seemingly complicated subjects simple to understand and interesting to learn. As such, The Five Thousand Year Leap is easy to read-almost captivatingly so. All types of students, from high school seniors to trained lawyers find it most inspiring to read and study.
The reading and studying of The Five Thousand Year Leap is being made easier than ever before by being available in different formats:
First, the newly printed edition is updated and available at a substantial discount if purchased in quantity. While one copy is priced at $19.95, ten or more copies may be purchased for $5.00 each. Can you think of many other new books that contain such wisdom that can be had for such a price? This book becomes a gift one can give at any time during the year to be treasured by a whole family. The goal of NCCS is to get this book into the hands of millions of Americans because of what we know it will do to their hearts and thinking.
Second, The 5000 Year Leap is available in audio in MP3 format on one disk so that it may be played on any of the growing number of mobile devices capable of playing such files. This technology makes the distribution of the Founders’ story so inexpensive that cost becomes nearly a non-factor in its distribution. It also allows busy Americans to listen at times other than quiet reading times.
Third, our full-length classroom course on The Five Thousand Year Leap entitled American Government and Constitution, Part I, is available on DVD. It is developed as a full curriculum for use in schools and families. Because of its already popular acceptance, we will be replicating it in quantity later this month so that the price will come down from the VHS price of $149.95 to the DVD price of $49.95, which includes the textbook, suggested syllabus outline, assignments, quizzes, and examinations. This course was recorded live in a classroom setting and contains all embedded PowerPoint notes used in the live classroom.
Fourth, a summary DVD will be available containing a discussion of several key concepts in The Five Thousand Year Leap . Some have asked for a shortened “first glance” of our full course and this DVD will be available to fulfill this request.
The Making of America One-Day Live Seminars
NCCS will continue to respond with the growing need to hear the Founders’ story by teaching one-day Saturday seminars around the nation. These Making of America seminars continue to be one of the best ways for NCCS supporters to interest their friends and family members in the exciting world of good citizenship. Needless to say, our nation is floundering and there is so much needless debate on how to solve problems. Needless, we say, because the answers have already been discovered over 200 years ago. When frustrated Americans hear the message from the Founders, it is like hearing a voice from the dust which has a familiar tone. Honest Americans seeking answers find great comfort in the Founders message.
Hosting a one-day Making of America seminar can be a satisfying experience. If you feel the urge to look into it further, go to our website and follow the link under “Host a NCCS Seminar” or call us directly at the number above. You’ll find step-by-step instruction and a sample publicity flyer for your use. Perhaps some who have hosted one before would like to have a repeat seminar.
Announcing our First Annual NCCS Constitution Tour
For twelve years, I have been leading two student tours to the east coast, one called Independence Tour, focusing in the Washington, D.C.-Philadelphia area, and one called the Liberty Tour, focusing on the Boston-New York area. These tours have produced some incredible experiences for our high school students, some of which I have reported in this monthly newsletter. When I do give these reports, I usually hear back from some excited adults who have asked us to make the same thing available for them.
We are now announcing an NCCS Constitution Tour which will combine both of our student tours and will cover all the areas in both of these tours. It will begin in Boston and will end in Washington D.C. and include many areas in between. Please see the enclosed flyer for further details and a proposed itinerary.
As was said in our previous letter, it is quite obvious that Americans are frustrated and searching for better answers than what has been given them for many years. We, at NCCS, have a strong conviction that the God of our Founders still looks down on us today with compassion and has made it increasingly possible to get the message of freedom and liberty out to more Americans than ever. It is up to us to spread the message far and wide so that these eternal truths can be popularized and restored. The Founders rejected the idea that America was just one of many nations in history that will have a life of limited duration. They felt that if future generations learned and embraced the eternal principles they laid down, America would endure forever and would be the means of bringing freedom to the entire world. Should we not join the Founders and go on in so great a cause? Listen to them describe our challenge:
“I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.” (The Making of America, p. 233)
“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them. And it requires no very high degree of education to convince them of this. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” ( Writings of Thomas Jefferson 6:392)
“We owe every other sacrifice to ourselves, to our federal brethren, and to the world at large to pursue with temper and perseverance the great experiment which shall prove that man is capable of living in [a] society governing itself by laws self-imposed, and securing to its members the enjoyment of life, liberty, property, and peace; and further, to show that even when the government of its choice shall manifest a tendency to degeneracy, we are not at once to despair, but that the will and the watchfulness of its sounder parts will reform its aberrations, recall it to original and legitimate principles, and restrain it within the rightful limits of self-government.” (The Making of America, p. 239)
John Adams, like so many of the Founders, laid great stress on the importance of broad, in-depth knowledge of governmental principles. Early in his professional life, John Adams wrote to his wife explaining what he felt he must do to prepare himself for leadership in the “divine science” of politics. He wrote:
“The science of government is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take place of, indeed to exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.” (The Five Thousand Year Leap , p. 63)
All this takes your continued support
Many of you have continued through the years to support NCCS financially with a monthly or annual contribution. For this we are extremely grateful. It has been some time since we have reminded our readers that we are supported only by donations. We invite our readers, particularly our new readers who are receiving this letter by email, to join us by contributing something to NCCS periodically. The Founders could not have accomplished their objectives without some funds, and they pledged their all to make it happen. If the thousands of people who receive this letter would make a commitment to give something to this cause, I hope you see it will go a long way in accomplishing the goals we have outlined.