Speaking out about the Government Shutdown
(October 3, 2013)
One of the goals of Global Studies at Talking Stick is to give homeschoolers a forum where they can discuss current events with their peers. The government shutdown that began on October 1st, was the perfect current event to begin with; confusing, timely, and directly impacting our country. Although everyone had heard of the shutdown, there were a ton of questions.
Why are we shut down?
Has this happened before?
Does this happen in other countries?
Why doesn't this happen under other forms of government?
What will happen to the United States because of the shut down?
How does the world feel about the US government during a shutdown?
The entire group spoke together considering and answering these questions for over an hour of thoughtful and respectful dialogue. Resources used include:
After finishing up the Q&A, half of the group decided to write a letter to the government addressing our concerns about the shutdown while the rest worked on political cartoons. Our letter:
It seems like Congress can't agree on anything. The government shutdown is hurting America's public image. We are concerned about the people affected by this shutdown like the public workers who aren't getting paid, the people who get food stamps, and the people who work in and visit our National Parks. We don't think the budget should be connected to the Affordable Care Act. Please come together to agree on a solution and show that you have the country's best interests at heart.
Participants of the Global Studies Class at Talking Stick Learning Center
For additional perspective, we spent the remainder of our session role-playing a political crisis with two conflicting points of view. Participants were divided into two distinct party groups, apprised of their party's position, and told create a plan to resolve a certain issue. We regrouped, presented both agendas, and voted on a resolution that the unified group could present to our "president". They struggled with compromise, and nearly ran out of time. However, they did pass an agreement by a majority vote just two minutes before our government was going to shutdown (ie. class was ending).
Although this Global Studies session began with a considerable amount of blame towards Congress for allowing the shutdown to happen, the role-play resulted in more empathy for the individual representatives, who are human beings trying to agree on answers to hard questions.