As I began thinking about my next blog topic, and since it is that time of year for Independence Day celebrations, family and community gatherings, as well as all the political noise of the day, I decided to write about democracy. Democracy literally means giving power to the people.  And so I want to work through some sub-topics of ways we can empower children to be decision makers, problem solvers, and socially skilled “little people”.  I think I can also safely say that these topics are always relevant and of interest to teachers and parents.   Our society, on every level, from our politicians to us “everyday” folk should be concerned about promoting pro-social behaviors and democratic principles.

So… my husband and I are taking a few days to “recreate” in the beautiful Smokey Mountains. We got to our destination around 4 in the afternoon and wanting to cram as much fun into our short three day  stay, we hurriedly bought tickets for a 5:30 dinner show.  What show?  The Hatfields and McCoys.  Now, it’s a comedy family “feud” and I doubt very close to accurate at all, but definitely entertaining with music, dance and comedy.  Anyway, as their story goes, the patriarch Anson Hatfield and the matriarch Granny McCoy are really secretly in love with the feud having its roots in a miscommunication between the two star-crossed lovers in their early years.  And in this story there is a happy ending, with Granny and Anson getting a second chance at love and marriage and everyone becoming one big happy family.  Cute…corny…and comical. But as the show comes to an end, our narrator (who has up until now teasingly engaged the audience into divided sides) proclaims that we are really just one big family…one big American family. A stirring rendition of America the Beautiful is sung by all the cast members while the audience stands and salutes the flag. I don’t know about you, but I get a little emotional and I am reminded how lucky I am to be an American.

The privilege of being an American, also comes with responsibilities.  As Americans we have the responsibility to vote, respect and obey the laws of the land, respect the rights and opinions of others, and…pay taxes.  As Samuel Adams noted in 1779, we also have the “responsibility to be a good person”.  So, I hope to share some ways in these next posts, to exercise democracy in our programs, promote social relationships and behaviors in our classrooms, and support problem solving in our conflicts—it’s never too early to learn how to be a “good person”!