Sunday, February 14, 2010

Standards Sundays: Grade 5, oh say can you see?

"Purple mountains majesty" probably wasn't about the Coast Range, but it's close enough.

While reading through these standards again, I'm constantly surprised at how MUCH there is for a fifth grader to learn in social sciences. I'm not sure I remember half this stuff from when I was a fifth grader. Is it about time for me to put aside the surprise? Maybe.

The next strand in this subject, in this grade level, deal with the US Constitution and "American values." Whatever they are.

Three substrands strike my interest:

5.7.1. List the shortcomings of the Articles of Confederation as set forth by their critics.

5.7.5. Discuss the meaning of the American creed that calls on citizens to safeguard the liberty of individual Americans within a unified nation, to respect the rule of law, and to preserve the Constitution.

5.7.6. Know the songs that express American ideals (e.g., “America the Beautiful,” “The Star Spangled Banner”).

The first two above are quite intellectually stimulating. Why are there shortcomings when the founding fathers (supposedly) put a lot of careful thought into writing the thing? Is it really the average citizen on the street's job to preserve the Constitution when we have congress people and presidents and other public servants to do it for us? Are there any laws that DON'T safeguard the liberty of individual Americans; if so, how and why were they ratified and how can they be corrected so it does protect individual liberty?

The last of the three is just plain hilarious.

Don't get me wrong, those songs are great. However, I can't help but think of the rodeo scene from Borat.

Which is horribly sad because those songs are gorgeous. "America! America!/
God mend thine every flaw/Confirm thy soul in self-control/Thy liberty in law!" And then, "Till selfish gain no longer stain/The banner of the free!" Rather more noble than what most people learn. I didn't realize that "America the Beautiful" had eight stanzas. I thought it was more like six. Which is still longer than the one that most Americans know. And by "most Americans," I mean the relatively small number who actually know of the song.

The meaning of the songs are more important than the song themselves of course. All those "critical liberals" sometimes do go a little too far in mocking the singing of these songs. Conversely, all those "red-neck conservatives" do the song injustice by taking only a little bit of it - and out of context at that.

In any case, it would be fun to perform these songs with my class. In a rap, or an opera, or interpretative dance, or through sign language. That would put a fun and challenging twist to the lesson.

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