Thursday, October 23, 2008


In classrooms all across The United States school children and their teachers stand facing the American Flag every morning to recite The Pledge of Alligiance. In our school this is said in both American Sign Language and English. In other schools those young children with their right hands over their hearts may be speaking Spanish. Although the language differs, there is something we have in common. We are all Americans.

The words sometimes get jumbled. I have heard "one nature under God, invisible, with Liberty and Justice that's all" and many times the young ones like to throw in an "Amen" at the end. Yet, in spite of the less than perfect delivery the essence of the words somehow shines through. When Lauren and I take our students on class trips and they notice a flag waving outside a building they turn to us with excitement and exclaim "Look! America!" as they recite (over and over) the pledge.

They are proud of America. Proud to be Americans.

In our classroom we try to support this citizenship by teaching respect. Together we develop a set of classroom rules that serve as reminders in achieving this goal. Rules like...

And my personal favorite

It is sometimes a struggle to keep things operating smoothly but all in all I think we succeed. After all, these are five-and-six-year-olds.

It has struck me over the last month or so that given the performance of John McCain during the presidential debates, at rallies, on the news and in his campaign ads, I think he would have a difficult time managing in first grade, let alone the White House.
Do we honestly want someone who has yet to learn how to take turns or show respect for others running our country? Throw that in with taking away my medical benefits, cutting Medicare, stripping away the right of a woman to choose, the lying, the promoting of hate and horrendous judgement in picking the unethical and down right scary Sarah Palin as his running mate and you have one colossal disaster waiting to happen.
I would advise these two to step back to first grade before they venture out into the world where they will just get themselves, and us, into trouble.


Kellyann Brown said...

In our elementary school, every day begins with a student leading the pledge over the intercom. On Fridays there is a school meeting where the students of the week are honored. Each class sends three or four students who tell why that student is student of the week (an example: "Aidan is a good friend and cares about the people around her). They read from index cards (even the first graders) and it is precious. Then the student of the week gets up and makes a statement (example: I love my mom and dad, I love my dog and I love my school). Everyone claps. It's not unusual for parents to take the day off from work or go in late, so they can be there to see their child be student of the week... in the class of twenty, it happens once a year). At the end, we sing the school song, which starts out, "Hurray for the school on the hill..." Coming from 13 years of Middle School, I still find the student of the week assemblies charming and sweet.

Here's hoping that your week is filled with sweet patriotism and the wonderment of when people validate you!


Joy Keaton said...

Well may I just add (with the kids) A-MEN!

tut-tut said...

Did your class do that wonderful flag on top?

Wonderful sentiments!

WAT said...

AHAHAHAH! I will stop hitting people with my shoe then, but GEEZ! It's gonna be very hard to stop!

Although I am not pleased with either candidate, I prefer Obama over McCain exactly for the very reasons you pointed out. Just the thought of Sarah Palin next in line makes me and millions out there cringe in absolute horror!

Thanks for this post's title! Imma post something now regarding AMERICA. Watch for it.

Gary said...

Kelly – Our school has a monthly Spirit Day where everyone gathers in the auditorium to celebrate one student from each class. The Student of the Month is called up to the stage after his or her teacher(s) share kind words about the child. Everyone claps, the child is given a special certificate and a photo is taken to capture the moment. This has been an incredible experience. There is a great deal of support among the students. Our next Spirit Day is this Friday – Halloween.

Your comment has given me an idea though about how to improve on this. It would be nice for each student in my class to write something nice about the Student of the Month. I remember we did something similar to this when I was in 6th grade and I still have what others wrote about me (somewhere). I wonder if many other schools do what you describe. It seems so wonderful.

Joy – Can I hear another “AMEN!”? I thought so.

Tut – The flag was actually something created by the other first grade class. I was walking down the hall yesterday and saw a bunch of these on a bulletin board and simply had to take a picture. They are amazing. I had intended to post a picture of all of them but the single shot seemed more powerful in the end.

Wat – I am on the look out for your AMERICA post. I think this would have made a good Theme Thursday idea. (Kimy are you reading this?)

Anonymous said...

I'm so with you on this. We need a change and a new direction in leadership. Please remember the important date of November 4th. Exercise your right and get out and vote!

lettuce said...

I love the picture this conjures up Gary - McCain and Palin having to sit through first grade and learn to behave.

i'm guessing you wouldn't want them in your class tho...

theres nothing comparable over here - nationalism isn't generally too popular except in extreme and nasty forms, i sometimes think we prefer to be negative about our country :o/

and the flag is associated more with football and/or BNP (racist neo-facism) than anything else...

but citizenship has recently become more of a focus in the national curriculum, which might not be such a bad thing

Pod said...

but couldn't i just throw a very small hard shoe at sarah palin's elbow?

i'm not sure if i'm in denail or whether you are projecting on to my recent posts.....


Pod said...

or denial even.....

there you go...two posts again

J. David Zacko-Smith said...

Oh Gary - this is an awesome post!

I think that McCain would have a hard time managing MY classes, and they are undergraduates in college!

Reya Mellicker said...

I'm so happy that you are officially endorsing Obama on your blog. Bravo!!

Yes yes yes and yes. Ten more days, then we can vote. I'm actually looking forward to voting this time around - very unusual in recent years.

By all means do NOT hit anyone with your shoe. Love the sign!

And love your bottom line: respect. Yes! I'll admit I'm having a hard time feeling respectful of McCain, though in the past I respected him a great deal. I saw an interview with Christopher Hitchens (who does not mince words) who is yet another Republican who will vote for Obama. When asked why, he said, "McCain has gotten weird. I think he's borderline senile."

Say it, brother!

As soon as the election is over, I will begin trying to cultivate some respect for him once again. I promise.

Aileen said...

I remember wondering why America was "invisible".

...and hopefully we can all celebrate on Nov 5!

Barbara said...

Maybe the next round of candidates should be issued rules of behavior up front!

At the shelter where I read, we always review the rules before we read. They include things like, Don't hit another person, Listen when someone else is speaking. I added a rule to the standard list: Be gentle with the books. Many of these children have never learned how to turn the pages with kindness.

Kids like the security of a framework for their behavior. They like the repetition of things like the Pledge of Allegiance, even if they don't say all the words correctly.

LadrĂ³n de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Your kids are much better behaved than John McCain or Sarah Palin. Are those the frames the kids were starting on the day I visited? They are lovely.

Gary said...

JT - Yes, these are the frames that we started when you were visiting. Actually it was your desire to see the finished product that inspired their inclusion in this post. So thanks for the idea. We hung them on the windows and the light shines through them, which illuminates them in a beautiful way.

Barbara - Children really do crave structure even if they rebel again it. I have a child in class now who really tests the limits but with consistency I think he is coming around. If he doesn't it is going to be a long year. :) Also, caring for books is an important rule that we have as well.

Aileen - That is an AMEN as well.

Reya - It is about time isn't it. My parents are both McCain supporters so I am hoping to influence their vote in gentle ways. I had a talk with my nephew yesterday and hopefully turned him around. It's amazing how people make these decisions with so little information or misinformation. Scary stuff.

J.DZ-S - I love that video you have on your blog and swiped it for my sidebar. Thanks.

Poddy - It's a trend. I think perhaps it is me projecting but there are worse things to project, true? Must be your velvet way with words and images.

Letty - Thanks for the insight into the various perspectives on national pride. I guess I figured all countries were like America in this. Interesting stuff.

Joy Keaton said...

Oh and I do believe November 4th is a special day in a couple of ways... isn't it? ;) Let's hope someone gets a REALLY good Birthday present!

Salty Miss Jill said...

These are so precious. Thanks for keeping things real on your blog!

Gary said...

Joy - An Obama win would be a fantastic birthday present and an even bigger reason to celebrate. Let's hope things go that way.

Pauline said...

this is funny (without meaning to be?) and the humor is so needed! I think we should send a copy of the rules to McCain's campaign... and if you can "graduate" McCain and Palin from your class, send them on to my second grade classroom and I'll see what I can do to add to the makeover :)

Steve Reed said...

Amen, ma brutha!

(Have you been humming Joan today? :) )

Gary said...

Salty - I do what I can to keep it real within an optimistic lens.

Pauline - That shoe rule is good for a laugh in all the seriousness of discussing respect. We try to use kids words as much as possible and in this instance I could not resist. As for McCain/Palin...too much to say and none of it positive.

Steve - 'Love Song to a Stranger' is running through my head. Great song!

Mikey T said...

Hopefully tomorrow will be the end of down right scary Sarah Palin - at least as a political nightmare. Put her on the View instead of ELisabeth Hasselbach and I'll tivo it every day!!


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